Statement by Special Olympics New York CEO on National Institutes of Health (NIH) Healthcare Designation

Albany, NY – Special Olympics New York President & CEO Stacey Hengsterman today issued the following statement.

“This week, people with disabilities were officially designated as a population with health disparities by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), one of the most influential health agencies in the world,” said Hengsterman. “This is a significant milestone that will propel Special Olympics’ critical work in healthcare forward. It paves the way for greater research into the healthcare challenges our athletes have historically faced, and it will lead to effective interventions and solutions to ensure they are better served in the future.”

About Special Olympics New York Health 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. On a typical team of 10 Special Olympics New York athletes: 3 have untreated tooth decay, 5 need new glasses, and 6-8 are overweight or obese.

As the world’s largest health program for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Special Olympics has been filling this void for more than 20 years by providing free health screenings and referrals for athletes, with the help of trained clinicians and volunteers.

Special Olympics New York health screenings are conducted by certified health professionals at regional and state level competitions, currently impacting nearly 2,000 athletes annually. Screenings are offered in 8 health disciplines: Podiatry, Physical Therapy, Dentistry, Vision Care, Mental Health, MedFest, Fitness and Nutrition.

To learn more or get involved, visit Special Olympics New York online, HERE.

About Special Olympics New York

Special Olympics New York is the largest state chapter in the country, serving more than 42,000 athletes across New York with year-round sports training, athletic competition, and health screenings. The organization also partners with about 250 schools statewide to offer Unified Sports, where students with and without disabilities compete as teammates. All Special Olympics New York programs are offered at no cost to athletes, their families or caregivers. The organization has earned the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.com and a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, making it one of the most trusted charities in the business nationally. For additional information about Special Olympics New York, to learn more about getting involved, or to make a donation, visit www.specialolympicsNY.org.