History of Healthy Relationships

History of Healthy Relationships

Special Olympics Arizona fully supports the idea that all people have the right to healthy and safe relationships. Our team has worked to identify opportunities to bring comprehensive and all-inclusive sexual health education and services to our athletes (individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities or IDD) and partners (individuals without intellectual and developmental disabilities).

At the end of 2019, we made a breakthrough and identified a partner who was able and enthusiastically willing to help make this dream come to life. A private, not-for-profit organization, Affirm, is dedicated to making reproductive healthcare and education available and accessible to all women, men, and teens in Arizona, regardless of access to health insurance or money to cover costs.

SOAZ has graciously received Title X funding to develop and implement a multi-phase strategic plan to ensure our athletes and partners have access to the resources and services imperative to live their healthiest lives.

This strategic plan includes training for providers, staff, coaches, and teachers. Trainings are designed to start conversations and to help ensure that those supporting individuals with IDD have the skills and education to appropriately respond to questions, concerns, or thoughts and can connect these individuals to the appropriate services. Additionally, the strategic plan includes the creation and dissemination of athlete sexual health education resources that are currently in the beginning phases of creation.

In 2020, SOAZ formed a committee to explore and develop opportunities for education, advocacy, and support related to sex education and healthy relationships. The committee is comprised of educators, clinical professionals, SOAZ staff, athletes and family members working together towards a common goal of promoting healthy relationships and sexual education for all. As of 2023, the committee has developed and held virtual trainings for clinical staff, community providers, parents, and educators and has created a Healthy Relationships curriculum titled “Understanding Me: The Athlete’s Guide to Navigating Healthy Relationships.

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