Promoting a healthy lifestyle with Special Olympics Slovenia

Special Olympics Slovenia is currently in its second year of a three-year Healthy Communities Project, within which one of the main focuses is healthy lifestyle promotion.
Special Olympics coaches and athletes stand in a gym in work-out gear.
Sebastjan Koželj, Special Olympics Slovenia coach and mentor with Special Olympics Slovenia athletes, including Tomaž Lenče (centre).

Special Olympics Slovenia is one of many programmes across Europe Eurasia that is making major strides in the area of health. Special Olympics Slovenia athlete, Tomaž Lenče, and his coach and mentor, Sebastjan Koželj, discuss the impact of our vital health promotion work.

Special Olympics Slovenia is currently in its second year of a three-year Healthy Communities Project, within which one of the main focuses is healthy lifestyle promotion. The team organises health and nutrition workshops combined with exercise sessions and works to raise awareness among parents, coaches, and peers about the need for a healthy lifestyle to achieve better sports results. They provide year-round fitness and wellness opportunities and regular Healthy Athletes screenings, as well as a system for follow up care afterwards. Vitally, the Special Olympics Slovenia team is also building up partnerships. The aim of ensuring that the health impact lasts and the project is sustainable underlies everything they do.

“The testing showed I need to improve my health”

Special Olympics Slovenia athlete Tomaž Lenče, was delighted to participate in the Health Promotion screening during a recent athletic event in Maribor. He said, “The testing showed I need to improve my health. My body weight, which is too high, is the biggest problem, because I like to eat very much. I like participating in this project a lot.”

Two Special Olympics athletes using equipment in a gym.
Special Olympics Slovenia athlete Tomaž Lenče with a fellow participant in Healthy Athletes programme.

Tomaž continued, “My mentor and I made an agreement in the beginning, to start with the biggest problem. This problem is that I also eat leftovers and what others give me alongside with my own meal. This is why I often end up eating two meals instead of one. With the help of my mentor, I decided to only eat one portion at each meal and it also must be balanced. Of course, I also work out and try to be active.”

“Every Special Olympics Slovenia athlete deserves a chance”

Tomaž’s mentor and coach, Sebastjan Koželj, added, “Special Olympics Healthy Communities project seems like an excellent tool to help us mentors and coaches with guiding and educating athletes on healthy lifestyle habits. Many athletes are overweight and have bad eating habits. There is always a lot of work in this area. At the same time, we also need to care for the other athletes, who whose aerobic and anaerobic fitness is poor, who don't eat very much and perhaps eat unhealthily and infrequently. I think every Special Olympics Slovenia athlete deserves a chance. But I also wish that our athletes and others had more understanding from the community we work in.”