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
The first session of Athlete leadership training for the Health Messengers started with a drawing exercise by 41 residents of the Asha Kiran led by Harpreet Singh and Siddhant Nath. The session was free flowing, the participants drew anything that held a place of prominence in their thoughts. It was heartening to see them draw a house, something that many are deprived of, as Asha Kiran is a Delhi Government run residential care facility for persons with Intellectual Disabilities, many of whom are abandoned. All were asked to explain their drawings briefly.
One trainee drew small circles all over the sheet making it difficult for the resource person to comprehend until he explained that it was a bouquet of flowers and flowers make him happy!
As the session concluded nine females and 9 males have been shortlisted for the next session that would take them to a higher level. It was noteworthy that the females were more vocal than the males, as most of them have gone for the World Games and have got that experience of a larger interaction
Kalyani drew ‘her country her pride’ and recalled her participation in the Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017 in Austria, in Floor Hockey where she won bronze medal. 10 Years back Kalyani, 21yrs of age then, was referred to the Asha Kiran Home, Delhi, abandoned and oblivious of her early life & antecedents. She didn’t know anything about her family and herself and was not even able to talk properly. She didn’t do activities of daily living and was completely dependent on house aunties. After spending some time in Asha Kiran and with regular intervention, she started doing activities of daily living herself. She learned to speak Hindi here. She was encouraged and continuously persuaded to participate in sports and other activities. She played badminton, cycling, volleyball, softball, athletics and floor ball. Being in sports and winning medals installed confidence in her and she also started showing leadership skills. She knows how to make different hairstyles and other grooming activities. She has lots of friends in the dormitory who listen to her and she helps and counsels them. “ Kalyani’s physical appearance has also improved. She is physically fit and looks young and smart. .Transformation in her is best manifested through her confidence which got a boost through sports and has now become a part of her personality. “- Dr. Rachna Bhardwaj, Superintendent, Asha Kiran Home Delhi
Healthy Athletes aims to:
The Healthy Athletes programme reaches out to athletes through seven disciplines.
Read more about Healthy Athletes
Professor Monica Chaudhry – Optometrist
Director- School of Health Sciences, Ansal University Gurgaon (dtd October 2019)
“My experience of screening the Athletes has often made me contemplate over how many of the anomalous conditions that exist could’ve been prevented. It could be a lack of care and regular monitoring that may have led to conditions that could be reversible or perhaps irreversible. The problems are related with simple hygiene or cataract that could’ve been treated or may be just a poor eyesight that could improve with the correct lens”
“An incident overwhelms me even today. After having examined an Athlete I made her wear a pair of spectacles. She saw around and then just held my hands and kissed them. She was in her late twenties. I realized that she had never seen any better. For her that’s what the world had gradually shaped to be. That day with the spectacles everything in an instant became so clear making her so happy”
Prof Monica Chaudhry is an Optometrist by profession and currently Director of School of Health Sciences, Ansal University Gurgaon, Haryana. Although her association with SO Bharat goes back to 1996, when she was a faculty of Optometry at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and volunteered with her students at one of the screening camps, she re-joined in 2016. She has specialized in care for Persons with Special Needs and has had international exposure in that, also having been mentored by Dr Prithi Rekhi, Regional Clinical Adviser- Opening Eyes. Prof Chaudhry has also authored a book on ‘low vision’
Having led a few screening camps she emphasizes on routine check-ups as the Athletes may not be able to express themselves. In her capacity of being Director she has introduced ‘Psychology’ as essential to preparing her students for an Inclusive practice. Communicating with persons with disabilities is the most important aspect to begin with. To train and familiarize her undergrads and post graduates in vision screening of these special needs children and adults ,they have even placed few equipment in the campus clinics . Ansal University , health science school is entering in collaboration with the London School of Learning for higher education for persons with Special needs with the aim to make them employable.
The most profound aspect of Inclusive health is that the doctor has first to understand and communicate with the patient while examining accurately. The added effort gradually grows into a passion, making treatment and training a continuous process. While SO Bharat grants a platform to screen a group of individuals, Prof Monica wants to prepare each of her students to be prepared anytime, anywhere to examine and treat any individual with Intellectual disabilities/Special needs.
As Chairman of the Optometry Council of India Prof Chaudhry desires to prepare a proposal to incorporate eye care for persons with special needs as part of the curriculum
“I was simply completing my education, focusing on building my career, it is when I participated in the screenings, when I engaged with the Athletes that I felt that it is our responsibility to ensure that care reaches to all the segments of the society, everyone included”
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:
Special Smiles was introduced in 1993. It offers:
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.
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.
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:
Healthy Hearing introduced to Special Olympics in the year 2000. It provides:
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:
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:
Become a Special Olympics athlete.