Special Olympics provides free health screenings, care to athletes with intellectual disabilities

July 12, 2010

Lincoln, Neb., July 13, 2010 Expecting to provide approximately 5,000 free health screenings as well as follow-up care like dental work and prescription eyeglasses to those in need, Special Olympics’ Healthy Athletes initiative will be available to Special Olympics athletes July 19-23 during the USA National Games in Lincoln, Neb.

Screenings will be given in six different health areas (vision, hearing, dental health, healthy lifestyles, general fitness and foot care).

“We are extremely proud to be able to bring our Healthy Athletes program to Nebraska,” said Dr. Timothy Shriver, Chairman and CEO for Special Olympics. “With more than 1,000,000 free health screenings provided worldwide since its launch in 1997, Healthy Athletes represents the largest public health initiative that focuses on people with intellectual disabilities.”

  • In addition to screenings, Healthy Athletes also provides eyeglasses, sunglasses, hearing aids, mouthguards and other free items to athletes who attend. Thanks to partnerships with local organizations, other services and products not normally included in Healthy Athletes will also be available in Lincoln.
  • The Nebraska Dental Association will be providing a range of dental services, from cleanings to tooth extractions, to athletes in need free of charge.
  • M.A.D. DADS of Lincoln will give 150 bicycles to children with intellectual disabilities from Nebraska who are participating in the Special Olympics Young Athletes and Healthy Young Athletes program on Monday, July 19, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. The health portion of the program includes vision, hearing, and dental screenings, as well as health education (including helmet use and bike safety) for athletes aged 2-7.
  • Rocky Mountain Sunscreen from Arvada, Colo. provided sunscreen for Healthy Athletes to give away at the “Sun Safety on the Field” table at the Abbott Sports Complex from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., July 21-22. Health experts will also provide tips for hydration and sun safety.
    All Healthy Athletes activities are open to members of the media. Screenings will take place from 2-9 p.m., July 19-22; and 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Friday, July 23 in Pershing Hall, lower level, in Lincoln. All Special Olympics Nebraska athletes are invited to attend Healthy Athletes, regardless of whether they are competing in the Games.

The need for Healthy Athletes is great. Despite a mistaken belief that people with intellectual disabilities receive the same or better health care than others, they typically receive sub-standard care or virtually no health care at all. Special Olympics has shown that many health concerns are more common and significant for people with intellectual disabilities.

Among Special Olympics athletes in the United States, 29% have obvious, untreated tooth decay; 27.8% fail hearing tests; 22% have low bone density; and 16.0% have eye disease.

Media Contact: Karl Hejlik
Sr. Manager, Health and Research Communications
Cell: 202-459-1273 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              202-459-1273      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

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