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FIP and Special Olympics Partner to Bring Fit Feet Health Services to More Athletes

March 18, 2011

For Immediate Release

Special Olympics Athletes Worldwide Benefit from Free Health Screenings

Washington, DC –  Special Olympics International and the International Federation of Podiatrists/Fédération Internationale des Podologues (FIP) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) today. This MOU secures a partnership to expand the Special Olympics Fit Feet program and help Special Olympics Athletes correct gait problems, bone deformation, and other conditions that affect their health and well-being.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to totally engage our two international associations,” said Janet McInnes, President of the FIP. “With more than 80,000 FIP members around the world, we have highly qualified people ready to participate in the Healthy Athletes Fit Feet Program wherever it is held.  The FIP is especially proud to be associated with the Special Olympics program and delighted that our knowledge and expertise can be of benefit to so many wonderful athletes.”

People with intellectual disabilities have health conditions of the lower extremities at much higher rates than the general population. Globally, 55.4% of Special Olympics athletes have gait abnormalities; 23.3% have bone deformations; and 48.7% have skin and nail conditions of the feet.

“We are extremely proud and honored to work with such an internationally well-known and highly regarded organization,” said Dr. Timothy Shriver, President and CEO of Special Olympics. “Our movement’s athletes represent the most medically underserved population in the world. With FIP’s help, we can offer them the health screenings that they so badly need and deserve.”

The MOU will increase the volunteer participation of member podiatrists at Special Olympics Healthy Athletes events worldwide, foster communication between the organization’s respective memberships, encourage the development of programs and initiatives that further both organizations’ missions, and allow Fit Feet to reach more athletes through additional events, such as a demonstration screening at FIP’s World Congress.

About the International Federation of Podiatrists (FIP)
The International Federation of Podiatry/Fédération Internationale des Podologues (FIP) is an international not-for-profit association representing podiatrists in member organizations in 28 countries on six continents around the world. The mission of the FIP is to advance podiatry worldwide through education, advocacy and strategic alliances for the benefit of the public's health and well being, through collaboration with national and international organizations of podiatrists and other organizations of healthcare professionals.

About Healthy Athletes
Healthy Athletes is the primary health-related program for Special Olympics, providing free health screenings to athletes with intellectual disabilities in seven different areas -- (vision, hearing, oral health, healthy lifestyles, general fitness, podiatry, and sports physicals). 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 globally, 39% have obvious, untreated tooth decay; 26% fail hearing tests; 20% have low bone density; and 16.0% have eye disease.

About Special Olympics
Special Olympics is an international organization that changes lives by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, promoting acceptance for all, and fostering communities of understanding and respect worldwide. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the Special Olympics movement has grown from a few hundred athletes to nearly 3.5 million athletes in over 170 countries in all regions of the world, providing year-round sports training, athletic competition and other related programs.  Special Olympics now takes place every day, changing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities in places like China and from regions like the Middle East to the community playgrounds and ball fields in every small neighborhood’s backyard.  Special Olympics provides people with intellectual disabilities continuing opportunities to realize their potential, develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage and experience joy and friendship. Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org.

CONTACT:
Karl Hejlik
Special Olympics Inc.
+1 (202) 824-0308     
khejlik@specialolympics.org

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