Health & Wellness

In communities across the state, there is a misconception that people with intellectual disabilities, including Special Olympics New York athletes, receive the same quality of healthcare as the general public. For many reasons—including access—that simply isn’t the case.

That’s why we are working to create a culture of inclusion that will dramatically improve the health of our athletes and their peers in an environment of dignity and support for health, fitness and quality of life.

In communities across the state, there is a misconception that people with intellectual disabilities, including Special Olympics New York athletes, receive the same quality of healthcare as the general public. For many reasons—including access—that simply isn’t the case.

That’s why we are working to create a culture of inclusion that will dramatically improve the health of our athletes and their peers in an environment of dignity and support for health, fitness and quality of life.

Health and Fitness Programs          

Despite severe need and higher health risks, people with intellectual disabilities are often denied health services and die on average 16 years sooner than the general population.

Special Olympics Health, made possible by the Golisano Foundation, and in the United States in collaboration with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is creating a world where people with intellectual disabilities have every opportunity to be healthy.

ally active is an important part of training for sport and maintaining and improving overall health. The bridge between health and sports, fitness is optimal health and performance through adequate nutrition, hydration, and physical activity.

Healthy Athletes

Healthy Athletes® is a Special Olympics program that provides free health screenings and health education in a fun, welcoming environment with a focus on removing the anxiety people with intellectual disabilities often experience when faced with a visit to a medical professional.

Healthy Athletes offers screenings in eight disciplines, including Fit Feet, FUNfitness(Physical Therapy), Healthy Hearing, Health Promotion, Opening Eyes®, Special Smiles®, MedFest® and Strong Minds.

If you are a health care professional or student and want to volunteer to help at one of our health screening events, contact us to get involved.

Building a Healthy Community

Healthy Communities is a model Special Olympics Health program addressing the severe health disparities faced by people with intellectual disabilities (ID) through immediate and long-term community-based solutions. Healthy Communities is working to increase access to quality health care and prevention programming to improve the health status of people with ID.

To address the health disparities faced by people with ID, Special Olympics Healthy Communities program offers the following programs:

  • Health screenings in 8 different disciplines known as Healthy Athletes
  • Training for health and fitness professionals specific to serving persons with a vast array of intellectual and developmental disabilities
  • Partnerships with local health organizations to provide quality, inclusive care to individuals with ID
  • Opportunities to participate in community sports, fitness and wellness programs and activities

Health Advisory Council

The Special Olympics New York Health Advisory Council was established in 2020 with the purpose of addressing matters which affect the health and well-being of Special Olympics NY athletes and the wider intellectually disabled population. Composed of 11 medical and health professionals and community stakeholders who are knowledgeable about the field of intellectual disability and sports, or have influence over the health environment and systems in which athletes live, and representing various regions from across New York State, members will contribute a much-needed perspective to Special Olympics NY’s state-wide strategy to provide equitable healthcare and health services to individuals with disabilities. In an effort to provide individuals with ID in New York with equitable access to quality healthcare and health services, the initial focus areas of the Health Advisory Council will include:

  • Clinical-Advocating for inclusive health care and services for the ID population
  • Education- Supporting educational and training components of Special Olympics NY health programming
  • Advocacy- Developing community partnerships to support Special Olympics NY health objectives and advocacy efforts