Little girl with Down's syndrome on the track.

Blue Cross Helps Special Olympics Michigan Build Healthy Athletes

Special Olympics Michigan is known for providing year-round training and athletic opportunities for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Behind the scenes, the organization also equips their athletes with the tools and knowledge they need to lead a healthy life.

The 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.

Individuals with intellectual disabilities often suffer from chronic pain and disease, blindness, hearing loss and shortened lifespan. The screenings and information provided by the Healthy Athletes program teach athletes how to identify the types of problems that may require further medical attention. In addition, the program educates on the importance of maintaining 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 well-being, Healthy Hearing for audiology, MedFest for sports physical exams, Opening Eyes for vision, and Special Smiles for dentistry.

Special Olympics Michigan is a year-long program with more than 700 local and regional 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.

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Photo credit: Den Kuvaiev

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