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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:

Michaela Duchova

Special Olympics Slovakia

Catalina Cervantes Gamboa

Special Olympics Costa Rica

Ndèye Rokhaya Gaye

Special Olympics Senegal

Li Yan Ho

Special Olympics Hong Kong

Peter Ispold

Special Olympics Slovakia

Juliwati Japi

Special Olympics Indonesia

Tina Sirui Jia

Special Olympics China

Boniface Kimeu

Special Olympics Kenya

Katherine Elizabeth Little

Special Olympics British Columbia

Paavlena Madhivana

Special Olympics Arizona

Reynaldo Montova

Special Olympics Germany

Joyce Ramabusa

Special Olympics South Africa

Gabriela Patricia Velásquez Rodríguez

Special Olympics El Salvador

Travis Sherrer

Special Olympics Alaska

Erika Maradiaga Soler

Special Olympics Honduras

Nguyen Ngoc Bao Tran

Special Olympics Vietnam

Janka Weber

Special Olympics Germany

Health Messenger

The resources can be used to train Special Olympics athletes to become Health Messengers, empowering them to become health leaders, educators, advocates and role models within their Special Olympics communities and the community at large.

Special Olympics Shares Insights on Pursuing Health Equity at the 2023 American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Meeting

Special Olympics Missouri Athlete and Global Health Messenger Allen Tobin Talks About the Benefits of Healthy Athletes and Inclusive Health at the 2023 APHA Annual Meeting.
2 Min Read

Special Olympics Athlete Leader and Health Messenger, Shanaia Xuereb, Shares Her Experiences at this Year’s World Games Berlin 2023

In this week’s episode, Josh and Novie spoke with Special Olympics Malta Athlete Leader and Health Messenger, Shanaia Xuereb, about her time at this year’s World Games Berlin 2023.
1 Min Read

Agents Of Inclusion: Episode Nineteen

Lorenzo Tijerina, a health messenger for Special Olympics Texas, joins JR. They discuss Lorenzo's desire to help others, his passion for photography and so much more.