Health focus: Learning about sexual health & dating at the Special Olympics Netherlands National Games

Two young men, Jeroen Cauven and Jamel El Aouni sit across from one another at a table discussing dating tips at the First Aid for Dating station that was additionally offered at the Healthy Athletes venue during the Special Olympics Netherlands National Games. A young female listens in and three individuals sit int he background having a separate conversation.

During the Special Olympics (SO) Netherlands National Games, athletes had the opportunity to learn more about sexual health and dating. Dr. Dilana Schaafsma, SO Health Promotion Clinical Director and Specialist on Sexuality and Intellectual Disability (ID), created a dedicated station in the Healthy Athletes hub on these topics: ‘First Aid for Dating’ and ‘Education on Sexual Health/Sexuality’.

Dilana explained, “In my research on sexual health of people with an intellectual disability I found that sexuality is still a taboo topic. Caregivers find it difficult to talk about sexuality and people with ID have (consequently) poorer skills in this area.”

Dr. Schaafsma continued, “I found that people with ID experience problems with forming and maintaining relationships. Since Special Olympics is the perfect place to meet new people, and possibly a love interest, I wanted to do something to help them meet others. And, I wanted to show them that it is okay to talk about love and sexuality.”

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