The Special Olympics Healthy Communities distinction is awarded to Special Olympics North Carolina
As the largest amateur sports organization in the world for people with intellectual disabilities (ID), Special Olympics is dedicated to cultivating communities where people with ID have the opportunity to be healthy. Special Olympics North Carolina has officially received recognition as a Healthy Community – a distinction from Special Olympics, Inc. that denotes a year-round focus on advancing the health of people with intellectual disabilities.
For the past seven years, the Special Olympics Healthy Communities Initiative has been committed to improving health and wellness for people with intellectual disabilities around the world. Since 2012, Tom Golisano and the Golisano Foundation have contributed $37 million to Special Olympics global health programming. The goal is to increase access to health, fitness and wellness programs for people with intellectual disabilities, regardless of where they live. So far, 33 locations have received the Healthy Communities distinction out of the 64 countries and 28 states in the United States implementing the initiative.
Special Olympics North Carolina aims to emphasize the importance of strong health-related partnerships in developing the foundation for expanded access to health resources. In doing so, these partnerships have helped SONC advance and increase programming and health screenings, including vision, hearing and dental screenings. Local Special Olympics North Carolina programs provide opportunities to promote inclusive health for people with intellectual disabilities.
“This recognition means so much because it shows how dedicated and committed our local program leadership, partners and volunteers are to improving the health and lives of people with ID in North Carolina,” said Ellen Fahey, SONC Health Director. “There is a lot of momentum behind these health efforts and I am really excited to see where it will take us over the next few years.”
The vision of Special Olympics for its health program, made possible by the Golisano Foundation, is to create a world where people with intellectual disabilities have the same opportunities and access to health care as people without intellectual disabilities. The experience of Special Olympics in identifying and addressing the unmet health needs of people with intellectual disabilities has revealed the myriad of complex barriers to health faced by this population. Barriers to this vision include lack of access to quality health care, education and resources.
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 19 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.