Special Olympics announced that Special Olympics North Carolina is being recognized as a Healthy Community – one of 45 locations worldwide to receive the Healthy Community distinction that denotes a year-round focus on advancing the health of people with intellectual disabilities.
The work of Special Olympics Healthy Communities®, to improve the health and wellness of people with intellectual disabilities around the world, is made possible by the Golisano Foundation, and in the United States by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Since 2012, Tom Golisano and the Golisano Foundation have committed $37 million to Special Olympics global health programming to train health professionals, provide year-round access to health care for people with intellectual disabilities, conduct free health screenings, empower self-advocates and engage partners, like universities and community-based healthcare organizations.
Special Olympics North Carolina offers eight Healthy Athletes® disciplines, a Special Olympics program that provides free health screenings and health education in a fun, welcoming environment with a focus on removing the anxiety people with intellectual disabilities often experience when faced with a visit to a medical professional. The eight disciplines offered include FunFitness, Health Promotions, Healthy Hearing, MedFest, Strong Minds, Opening Eyes, Special Smiles and Fit Feet. In 2019, more than 6,000 athletes participated in health and wellness programming across the state. Many of those athletes experienced positive weight loss, increased access to health care, increased self-confidence and improvements in their sports performance.
“Our local leadership and partners have been working extremely hard to make sure athletes across the state have the opportunities to lead healthy lives,” said Special Olympics North Carolina Health Director Ellen Fahey. “It is an honor to have that hard work recognized by Special Olympics and to be seen as a leader in health.”
So far, the Healthy Communities recognition program has been activated in 66 countries, 34 US states and 4 Canadian provinces, and has made significant advancements in increasing access to inclusive health, fitness and wellness for people with intellectual disabilities in the communities in which they live.
About Special Olympics North Carolina
Since 1968, the organization has used the transformative power of sports to improve the lives of children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Nearly 40,000 athletes in North Carolina inspire thousands of coaches, sports officials, local program committee members and event organizers involved in Special Olympics statewide. SONC offers year-round training and competition in 20 Olympic-type sports on local and state levels as well as health and wellness initiatives to improve the health status and increase access to community health resources for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Youth become agents of change through Unified Champion Schools, an education and sports-based program created by Special Olympics to build an inclusive environment among youth with and without intellectual disabilities as well as empower them to become youth leaders and create change in their community. Visit Special Olympics North Carolina at www.specialolympicsnc.com. Engage with us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.