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Healthy Communities

Healthy Communities is a variety of follow-up care activities that is established to increase athlete engagement, attention to health from athletes and caregivers, and significantly health systems partnerships. Through support from the Golisano Foundation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Special Olympics Healthy Communities is a recognition program within Special Olympics, working to increase access to quality health care and effective prevention programming to improve the health of people with intellectual disabilities.

In addition to raising awareness about health disparities facing people with intellectual disabilities, Healthy Communities activates public and private sector partners to adopt more inclusive practices, train and empower athletes and caregivers to become vocal advocates, and ultimately make it possible for people with intellectual disabilities to live healthy lives in their own communities.

Through the Healthy Communities model, Special Olympics Programs are undertaking key health activities, which include:

  • Training health professionals, workers and students in quality care and prevention.
  • Developing partnerships and referral networks for people with intellectual disabilities to receive quality care
  • Conducting Healthy Athletes screenings in local communities.
  • Partnering with governments, health-care entities and other partner organizations to support efforts that increase access to care and prevention programming.
  • Providing ongoing health, wellness and prevention activities to athletes in the areas of fitness, water and sanitation, malaria, hygiene, nutrition, and HIV.
  • Educating and training family members, athletes and coaches as health advocates.

In Nigeria, Healthy Communities focuses on referrals from Special Smiles and Opening Eyes disciplines and the program has impacted over 500 beneficiaries (athletes) from the program 2014 till date, with significant improvements in their dental and visual health.