Special Olympics puts a special focus on health care

The 2022 Special Olympic USA Games in Orlando were a rousing success and helped highlight initiatives to improve health care for the competitors.

The Special Olympic Games are always for lack of a better word — special. Athletes converge from across the country and world to compete against each other in a joyous emotional time of celebration for both the athlete and their families.

FanSided had the pleasure of being on-site for this year’s event and what was evident more than anything else was how proud everyone was to be there. Winning is always the goal but the journey to get there and the obstacles overcome already made for a big victory in itself.

Special Olympics Healthy Athlete initiatives were front and center at the USA Games

Special Olympics goes above and beyond to make the experience a memorable one, but also to take great care of those who made the trip. Setting up the athletes to compete at the Games but also to be healthy after the Games is a huge focus.

Dr. Alicia Bazzano is the Chief Health Officer for Special Olympics. Dr. Bazzano was generous with her time and gave FanSided a guided tour through the health screening that each athlete is afforded. The program has been in place for over 20 years and continues to expand in scope.

As many of us know and have perhaps unfortunately experienced, getting proper health care can be very challenging. It is even more so for those who are living with an intellectual disability. There is simply not enough training for doctors on how to treat people living with an intellectual disability. They often get discarded at worst or receive minimal care.

At the Special Olympics USA Games, no stone was left unturned to level the health care playing field from hearing tests, eye tests, mental health evaluation, prevention guidance, and fitness evaluations. There is even a sensory room to help the athletes calm down in a safe space.

Providing the platform for people living with an intellectual disability was just the start back in 1968. Making sure they have the best health care possible in 2022 and beyond is another way Special Olympics continues to give back.

Why We Play features stories about the power of sports to bring us together, overcome obstacles, make positive change and reach everyone. Read more here.

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