Inclusive Health

Health Messengers

Six people standing in a circle with their arms around one another looking down as the photographer is looking up taking a photo of them.

The only way to end exclusion is to have people who face these challenges daily help create the solution. People with intellectual disabilities are guiding us toward solutions in our health work. The Special Olympics Health Messenger program was born out of this notion of participation. In order to create more effective public health programs, improve health systems and engage communities to support the health of people with intellectual disabilities, people with intellectual disabilities must have leadership roles in the health system.

Special Olympics Health Messengers are athletes who are trained to serve as health and wellness leaders, educators, advocates and role models within their Special Olympics communities, as well as the community at large. They are leading their teams, families, friends and communities to pursue healthy lifestyles, and are advocating for healthcare providers and governments to adopt inclusive policies around health, wellness services, education and resources for people with intellectual disabilities.

Since the Health Messenger program launched in 2016, nearly 4,000 athletes have been trained to be health leaders and advocates. Read more about some of their stories below:

Health Messengers
Great Britain
Michigan, USA
Massachusetts, USA
Colorado, USA
Florida, USA
Florida, USA
Hungary
Missouri, USA
Mississippi, USA
Alaska, USA
Pakistan
Hong Kong
Chinese Taipei
Netherlands

A Health Messenger is a Special Olympics athlete who has been trained to serve as a health and wellness leader, educator, advocate and role model within their Special Olympics communities and the community at large.
Stephanie Handojo discusses pushing past hurdles in life.
3 Min Read
Special Olympics takes part in the Big Game media tour virtually.
2 Min Read
The world changed in 2020. Isolation, fear, overloaded health systems, and food insecurity continue to plague the world through the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has especially made things difficult for people with intellectual disabilities (ID). Significant health disparities have been further exacerbated for those with ID. Special Olympics Health has been working hard to address these disparities.
2 Min Read