Promoting healthy athletes

The Healthy Athletes programme helps improve the overall health and fitness of athletes by providing basic health check-ups, preventive treatment, educational information, and referrals for follow-up care.


Nurturing Healthy Communities

 People with intellectual disabilities experience worse health care and access to services than others in their communities, and studies have found their life expectancies are shorter. The vision of the Special Olympics Health program, made possible by the Golisano Foundation, is to create a world where people with intellectual disabilities have the same opportunities to be as healthy as people without intellectual disabilities and, in doing so, allow Special Olympics athletes to perform to their best on and off the playing field.

The goal of the Special Olympics Health program is to ensure inclusive health for people with intellectual disabilities, meaning equitable access to quality health care, education, and services throughout communities

Special Olympics Healthy Community is a program recognition that demonstrates an on-going community- integrated dedication to facilitating access for people with Intellectual Disabilities to health and well- being services, education, and support everyday


Since November 2018 SO Bharat has been conducting regular Healthy Athlete screenings at the Asha Kiran Home New Delhi adding on more elements to create an environment of health, fitness and fun

Sunidhee, Special Dentistry Care Clinic Modinagar

Sunidhee,a Special Dentistry Care Clinic at the DJ college of Dental Sciences and Research became operational on September 24, 2014, opening doors to Athletes from SO Bharat for quality Dental screenings and cure, within their vicinity. Sunidhee, the special child after whom the Clinic gets its name, was present at the clinic to receive the Athletes, going to each presenting them with oral care products and to ensure they were fine. Full Report

The clinic was a culmination of passionate efforts by Dr. Reena, Clinical Director for Special Smiles with SO Bharat, Principal, Divya Jyoti College of Dental Sciences & Research, Modinagar and Hony Secretary, IADH, India. The clinic opens with support from IADH (International Association for Disability & Oral Health) India Chapter that was launched on September 15, 2014 in the presence of Dr. Dimitris Emmanouil DDS, MS, PhD, President, IADH.  Launch Report Special Care Dentistry had reached new heights with athletes receiving dental treatment free of charge every day since Sept 2014.  

 IADH, launched in 1971, is a group of individuals concerned about oral health and quality of life of persons with Special needs, having a presence in 40 countries, today.The members are a group of like-minded professionals who are concerned about the well being of people with disabilities and disadvantages, working together with their communities, professional societies and social or service organisations to improve the oral health and quality of life for people with special needs. Under the banner of iADH India Chapter number of scientific activities, awareness drives, Oral Cancer Screening , Tobacco intervention and cessation programs are conducted for athletes from Special Olympics and their families and care givers.

More on Divya Jyoti College of Dental Sciences & Research


Close to 20,000 athletes from 60 cities across 24 states were screened between 2007 and 2011.

The screening was the first medical examination for almost 50 per cent of these athletes. In the same period, we have added close to 1,500 doctors as volunteers to our programme.

Healthy Athletes aims to:

  • improve access to care at event-based and other health screening clinics
  • make referrals for follow-up to community health professionals
  • train healthcare professionals and students about the needs of people with intellectual disabilities
  • collect, analyse and disseminate data on their health needs
  • spread the word on improved health policies and programmes for them

The Healthy Athletes programme reaches out to athletes through seven disciplines.

Read more  about Healthy Athletes

Introduced to the Special Olympics in 1991, Opening Eyes is a global partnership between Special Olympics International and Lions Clubs International (LCI) and is supported by Safilo, Essilor and Liberty Optical. It provides:

  • vision screening
  • prescription eyewear
  • referrals for follow-up care

Special Smiles was introduced in 1993. It offers:

  • dental screenings
  • health education
  • prevention services and products such as mouth guards
  • referrals for treatment by community-based dentists

FUN fitness was developed by the American Physical Therapy Association for Special Olympics International and has been a part of our events since 1999. Through the programme:

  • Physical therapists, helped by assistants and students, provide an assessment of athlete flexibility, functional strength, balance and aerobic condition
  • Athletes are examined for flexibility of hamstring, calf, shoulder rotator and hip flexor muscles, functional strength of the abdominal, upper extremity, grip and lower extremity muscles, static and dynamic balance, and aerobic fitness
  • The assessment is used to educate and counsel athletes and coaches to improve their performance.

Healthy Hearing introduced to Special Olympics in the year 2000. It provides:

  • external ear canal inspection, evoked otoacoustic emissions screening, tympanometry and pure tone screening
  • individual moulded swimming ear plugs
  • referrals and access to hearing aids
  • assessment of the hearing of individual athletes, wherein the reports are provides to coaches and caregivers for follow-up care

Started in 2001, Health Promotion focuses on healthy lifestyles. We help athletes make healthy choices in nutrition, bone health, hydration, sun safety, and enable them towards prevention and cessation of tobacco usage. People with intellectual disability frequently develop chronic medical conditions such as heart diseases, obesity and diabetes, and they tend to develop these conditions at earlier stages of life. We believe overall health wellness will help them overcome and prevent the occurrence of such diseases.

Fit Feet was developed in 2003 in collaboration with the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine. The discipline is based partly on anecdotal reports from podiatric doctors about frequent foot and ankle pain among people with intellectual disability. Screening events confirmed this. The extent of podiatric concerns in athletes with intellectual disability was also affecting their sports performance. Fit Feet helps athletes:

  • check for deformities through foot and ankle screening
  • choose the right footwear and protective gear
  • learn about foot care
  • get referrals for follow-up care and treatment

Med Fest has been a part of Healthy Athletes since 2004. Since the early days of Special Olympics, ‘Medical Volunteer Days’ have helped athletes obtain the necessary sports physical examination for participation. In 1999, volunteers in Chicago, US, coined the term ‘Med Fest’ to describe these events. Med Fest:

  • provides athletes with high quality sports physicals
  • connects athletes with physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals
  • recruits new athletes to the Special Olympics while retaining the existing ones
  • works to forge new partnerships between the Special Olympics and the community
  • introduce local sporting attractions to the new athletes

Become a Special Olympics athlete.