Special Olympics Hawaiʻi is a Healthy Community
Healthy Athletes is a Special Olympics program that provides free health screenings in a fun, welcoming environment that removes the anxiety and trepidation people with intellectual disabilities often experience when faced with a visit to a doctor or dentist. Our impact on the health and well-being of Special Olympics athletes around the world is great, in some cases saving lives by discovering unknown health issues or providing health care that otherwise would not be available.
We not only serve these athletes but also train health care professionals who then go back to their practices with increased knowledge of and compassion for people with intellectual disabilities.
Despite a mistaken belief that people with intellectual disabilities receive the same or better health care than others, they typically receive sub-standard care or virtually no health care at all. Health screenings have found that Special Olympics athletes are at increased risk of secondary health issues:
- 50% have at least one kind of skin or nail condition
- 37% have obvious, untreated tooth decay
- 27% fail hearing tests
- 22% have low bone density
- 15% have an eye disease
MedFest was created to offer the physical exam that all athletes need prior to participating in Special Olympics sports programming. It is sometimes the first exposure these athletes have to medical care. In many cases, life-threatening conditions have been found and subsequently treated thanks to MedFest.
MedFest screenings have found that a large percentage of Special Olympics athletes have significant secondary health concerns. Unfortunately medications commonly taken by people with intellectual disabilities are often associated with long-term side effects such as osteoporosis, weight gain, and sun sensitivity.