Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Community Impact

Celebrating World Health Day with Equitable Care

Special Olympics Ghana athlete receives COVID-19 vaccine at our vaccination clinic.
People with intellectual disabilities often do not have access to critical health services and resources to improve their health and, as a result, die 16 to 20 years sooner than people without intellectual disabilities due to preventable health conditions.
Athletes performing squats in a gym.
Everyone should have the opportunity to be healthy. Special Olympics is working to make health inclusive by reducing health disparities for people with intellectual disabilities.
Special Olympics Southern California athlete Paul Hoffman gets a vision exam from volunteer optometrist Dr. Catherine Heyman.
Patterns of marginalization, stigmatization, intolerance, injustice, and oftentimes isolation have led to the neglect of people with intellectual disabilities in healthcare services. Patients with intellectual disabilities commonly experience communication gaps, lack of information, and limited access to care. These have all been factors that prevent patients from accessing early development interventions, treatment recommendations, and even cause misdiagnoses.
Special Olympics athlete has her eyes tested and points to an eye test card.
Since 1997, Special Olympics has delivered over 2 million free health screenings to athletes, thus making us the single-largest entity collecting health data on people with intellectual disabilities. Governments, health care providers, universities and think tanks can now make informed decisions impacting the well-being of people with intellectual disabilities with the health data we have collected from these screenings.
Michelle Falcon, swimmer from Mexico, has her vision examined at the Opening Eyes section of Healthy Athletes at the 2014 Special Olympics Southern California Invitational Games.
Special Olympics has trained 4,000 athletes to be self-advocates for inclusive health. They meet with public officials, advise healthcare students and speak to the media about how people with intellectual disabilities should be treated when it comes to understanding their unique health needs. Additionally, more than 300,000 health care providers and students have been trained in 60 countries.
A woman being interviewed by another woman and a photographer is taking their picture.
For World Health Day 2022, Special Olympics Chief of Health Alicia Bazzano, MD, PhD, MPH, traveled to India, where Special Olympics has provided more than 75,000 athletes with lifesaving health screenings. She was joined by 7,500 dedicated health professionals and student volunteers in 75 cities. On this day, Special Olympics Bharat (India) has made it into the Guinness World Records for the most health professionals trained in one day.

Recommended Content

Healthy Athletes Gives Xu Better Footing for Sports, Life

Xu has always been ready to try—even if things get tough. He was born with cerebral palsy, so sometimes it took him a little longer to reach his growth milestones. But Xu, who was born in Inner Mongolia, didn't give up.
1 Min Read

A Critical Moment for Inclusive Health

Special Olympics Latin America launches Mission Moment: Inclusive Health!
1 Min Read

Take Care of Yourself and Your Mental Health—World Mental Health Day

“Take care of yourself and move forward” has been Joe Wu’s motto during these last few months. No longer able to compete and to practice on a regular basis, Wu—like so many others—has turned to virtual ways to connect and uplift those around him.
2 Min Read