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Healthy Athletes

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. 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.

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

  • 37% have obvious untreated tooth decay
  • 37% need new prescription eyewear
  • 23% have low bone density
  •  26% failed hearing tests
  •  48% have at least one skin or nail condition
  •  59% of adult and 30% of youth athletes are overweight or obese

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.

  •  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.

  •  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.

  •  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.

  •  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.

  •  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.

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


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

** Unique to Special Olympics Arizona

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


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.


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