Healthy Athletes

Health Screenings and Education

Special Olympics Arizona Healthy Athletes is dedicated to providing health screenings and education to our athletes while changing the way future health professionals interact with people with intellectual disabilities.

Special Olympics is the world’s largest public health organization for people with intellectual disabilities, providing access to free health services for a population with significant, unmet health needs. Often, those with intellectual disabilities and their families don’t understand what is needed to optimize their health.

Healthy Athletes provides accessible information, resources, systems and policies at the individual, community, national and global levels that support them in realizing sustainable healthy and productive lives.

What We Do

Special Olympics Healthy Athletes provides free health exams in a fun, welcoming environment that removes the anxiety that often accompanies a visit to a doctor or dentist. More than 1.4 million free health exams have been given to Special Olympics Athletes to date.

Volunteer Benefits

Special Olympics health programs not only serve athletes but also trains healthcare professionals. After working with Healthy Athletes, these dedicated professionals go back to their practices with increased knowledge of and compassion for people with intellectual disabilities.

Why It Matters

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), despite the severe need and higher health risk, people with intellectual disabilities are denied health services, community interventions, and there is a lack of targeted interventions and programs for the population. Healthcare professionals who volunteer with Special Olympics have found that Special Olympics athletes are at increased risk of secondary health issues.


Fit Feet is a podiatric screening designed to evaluate athlete and partner’s feet, ankles and lower extremity biomechanics for deformities and abnormalities. Fit Feet also educates participants on proper shoes and socks for both competition and everyday life.

48% have at least one skin or nail condition

  • Dermatologic Evaluation
  • Neurologic Evaluation
  • Measurements
  • Musculoskeletal Evaluation
  • Biomechanical Evaluation
  • Gait Evaluation

FUNfitness is a physical therapy screening designed to assess and improve physical strength, flexibility, balance and aerobic fitness of athletes and partners. Physical therapists provide information to the participants on the importance of becoming and staying physically fit as well as at-home exercises to improve their physical well-being.

59% of adults and 30% of youth athletes are overweight or obese

  • Flexibility
  • Strength
  • Balance
  • Endurance
  • Education

Health Promotion is a general health screening designed to convey and reinforce key health concepts and health information. Health Promotion offers health information and advice for nutrition, sun safety, bone density and health, tobacco cessation and general physical fitness by using interactive educational games and literature.

23% have low bone density

  • Nutrition and Hydration
  • Bone Health
  • Sun Safety
  • Tobacco Avoidance and Cessation
  • Physical Activity

Opening Eyes is an optometry screening designed to improve the quality of life for athletes and partners by optimizing their vision, eye health, and visual skills through quality eye care. Opening Eyes provide eye care education along with prescription eyewear, sunglasses and sport goggles when needed.

37% need new prescription eyewear

  • Vision Check
  • Color Vision Check
  • 3-D Vision Check
  • Eye Alignment and Muscle Movement Check
  • eye Pressure Check
  • Total Eye Evaluation

Special Smiles is a dental screening designed to assess oral health and provide instructional and educational tools for dental and oral care, such as, brushing and flossing properly. For some multi-day events, Special Smiles is able to offer screenings on day one, with immediate on-site follow-up care and treatment on day two.

37% have obvious untreated tooth decay

  • Check-In
  • Dental Exam
  • Hygiene Station
  • Mouthguard Fitting
  • Special Smiles Goody Bag

Special Smiles is presented by


Healthy Hearing is an audiological screening designed to test the hearing of athletes and to provide corrective (hearing aids) and preventative (custom swim earplugs) services when needed.

26% failed hearing tests

  • Ear Canal Examination
  • Test for Hearing Impairment
  • Middle Ear Screening
  • Pure Tone Screening
  • Noise Protection

Strong Minds provides a psychosocial screening and skill training that focuses on the athlete and partnersÕ mental health and wellness. The screening identifies emotional and/or behavioral barriers which impact the athlete or partnersÕ training, competition and post-competition experiences. Techniques are taught to help athletes prepare mentally for competition and control negative emotions, thoughts and behaviors.

  • Stress and You
  • Strong Messages
  • Strong Breathing
  • Strong Stretching
  • Strong Support
  • Strong Mind
  • Pet Therapy **

** Unique to Special Olympics Arizona


Medfest is a free health screening that facilitates the acquisition of the standard sports physical that is required under the General Rules of Special Olympics, Inc., led by volunteer physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistant, and medical students.


Clinical Directors

Clinical Directors are volunteer professionals who are responsible for working with Special Olympics Arizona to identify and schedule the best opportunity to provide Healthy Athletes screenings based on local needs and resources and identify and train health volunteers to work in specific health disciplines.


  • Licensed Professional
  • Proven Interest of Service
  • Member or Active in Local/ State/ National Professional Organization
  • Geographic Accessibility to Program Activities
  • Demonstrated Leadership Abilities
  • Volunteer Commitment of 3 Years for Program Clinical Director


  • Attend a Healthy Athletes event to be trained by the current discipline specific Regional Trainer
  • Work with Special Olympics Arizona to gather appropriate equipment, supplies, and educational materials for the Healthy Athletes Screening
  • Recruit and train volunteers
  • Work with other Healthy Athletes Clinical Directors for coordination on Healthy Athletes event
  • Supervise and direct the Healthy Athletes Screening
  • Evaluate the event/ Adjust accordingly to Special Olympics Arizona specific needs
  • Acquire discipline specific resources for follow up care and treatment
  • Continue to seek opportunities and partnerships for Special Olympics Arizona Health Programs


Volunteer Healthy Athletes


The health expertise Healthy Athletes volunteers possess spans the complete spectrum of medical disciplines from podiatry to dentistry to traditional sports medicine, but one thing they all have in common is the sense of accomplishment and joy they receive from working with athletes with intellectual disabilities at a Healthy Athletes venue. Many volunteers come back event after event for years and say they get more out of the experience than they give. Health care volunteers receive free training on the specific health needs of people with intellectual disabilities, allowing them to go back to their practices and classrooms and better serve their patients and teach their students. Healthy Athletes screenings are also provided in a comfortable and fun atmosphere, so athletes and volunteers alike can enjoy themselves.

**If you are a medical professional or student who wants to get involved with Special Olympics Healthy Athletes please fill out the form below and you will be contacted.

Fill Out Form (link to healthy athletes interest form page)

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