The Special Olympics Michigan Summer Games came to a close on June 4, 2016, with thousands of athletes competing in ten sports among their friends and families. While the Special Olympics Michigan may be known for providing disabled athletes with an avenue to compete in sports activities that they love, many people do not know that the organization also equips them with the tools and knowledge they need to lead a healthy life.
The Special Olympics Healthy Athletes program, presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, was created in 1997 to provide Special Olympics athletes with free health screenings and information about their health. The 2016 State Summer Games alone provided nearly 2,000 athletes with health exams and fitness evaluations at no cost.
Individuals with intellectual disabilities often suffer from other afflictions such as chronic pain and disease, blindness, hearing loss and shortened lifespan. The screenings and information provided by the Healthy Athletes program also teach athletes how to identify these kinds of problems that may require further medical attention. In addition, the program educates on the importance of maintaing a healthy lifestyle, and how to obtain additional help, if needed.
Specific screenings offered by the program include: Fit Feet for podiatry, FUNfitness for physical therapy, Health Promotion for better health and wellbeing, Healthy Hearing for audiology, MedFest for sports physical exams, Opening Eyes for vision, and Special Smiles for dentistry.
The Special Olympics Michigan is a year-long program with over 400 local competitions and six, statewide competitions throughout the year. Healthy Athletes health screenings are provided at the Special Olympics Michigan State Summer Games, State Fall Games, State Winter Games, and the State Poly Hockey Finals.
Want to get involved? The Special Olympics of Michigan is always looking for volunteers and there are variety of ways you can help!
Photo credit: Farhad Sadykov