On 13 September, Special Olympics Chief Health Officer Dr. Alicia Bazzano was featured as a keynote speaker at the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) Future of Physical Therapy Summit. Dr. Bazzano spoke about the health inequities people with intellectual disabilities face, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has cast an even more dramatic light on those challenges globally. She introduced the dawn of a new 5-year initiative to expand Special Olympics Health work, committing to closing the gaps that people with intellectual disabilities experience in physical therapy, and in health care overall.
Throughout 20 years of partnership, Special Olympics and APTA have worked to improve the health of people with intellectual disabilities worldwide. To continue this effort, Special Olympics plans to promote healthier lifestyles for athletes, modernize health screenings using digital technology, train medical professionals virtually and in-person, and work to reform health systems to consider the needs of all populations—including those with intellectual disabilities. Dr. Bazzano called on attendees of the Summit and other medical field professionals to become inclusive health partners and ignite change in the health care system by partnering with Special Olympics in data collection, educating government leaders to adapt policies to be more inclusive, and largely, making individuals with intellectual disabilities heard.