Special Olympics Arizona fully supports the notion 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, Arizona Family Health Partnership (AZFHP) 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 trainings 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 the SEHR 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 2021, the committee has developed and held virtual trainings for clinical staff and are in the process of doing the same for community providers, parents, and educators. Virtual focus groups were held to provide athletes with the opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas on what they want included in sex education and healthy relationships resources. Moving forward, we will be offering opportunities for parents, guardians, and direct support professionals to share their input and ideas in developing these resources as well.