With training and competitions in 21 Olympic-style sports, our nearly 17,000 athletes push hard and play harder. They strive to beat their personal bests, defying the odds again and again. From local ballfields to the shining stage of the World Games, from swimming to skiing, our athletes showcase the talents and triumphs of people with intellectual disabilities.
The Healthy Athletes and Young Athletes programs are two of Special Olympics most important programs for our athletes.
The Healthy Athletes program provides vision, dental and hearing screenings on a regular basis, and with a centralized facility such as the Training for Life Campus, we can now provide these critical services more consistently to a larger number of athletes. This program benefits athletes of all ages as they are encouraged to thrive physically in all that they do. These screenings are helpful for our athletes' families as well who may not receive the opportunity to get this kind of basic medical attention.
Healthy Athletes encourages our athletes to push their limits in sports and be the best they can be, all with the peace of mind that they are healthy and strong. Healthy Athletes currently offers health screenings in seven areas: Fit Feet (podiatry), FUNfitness (physical therapy), Health Promotion (better health and well-being), Healthy Hearing (audiology), MedFest (sports physical exam), Opening Eyes (vision) and Special Smiles (dentistry). In its 15 years, the Healthy Athletes program has instilled in the world's disabled the importance of being a healthy individual by identifying problems that need additional follow-up or finding solutions that can change their life. The Healthy Athletes program's success is now known worldwide, with more than 1.2 million free health screenings in over 100 countries. In turn, Special Olympics has become the largest global public health organization dedicated to serving people with intellectual disabilities. Learn more about SOMO's Healthy Athletes program.
The Young Athletes program, which provides early intervention for boys and girls 3-7 years of age, also introduces resources to guide family members, educators and other professionals.
At its core, Young Athletes is a sport and play program for younger children with intellectual disabilities. This program focuses on gearing fun activities to the overall exercise of body and mind in these young athletes, and helps develop overall health and wellness. It directs others' attention on the children to a child's abilities, not their disabilities.
The active lifestyle that Young Athletes instills in its participants infiltrates many other aspects of a child's life -- the program can now even be followed from your home or at a child's school. A unique factor about this program is the remarkable feedback from parents about their child's growth in social skills. The structure of the program connects children through the love of sports, by teaching the importance of teamwork, sportsmanship, and personal achievement. With that, the children in Young Athletes often form special bonds with one another that help their confidence and happiness grow.
More than 50,000 children have experienced the wonders of being a part of Special Olympics in this way, and many have grown to become some of our successful adult athletes. This program is increasing its participant numbers like wildfire because of its true focus on all the possibilities a child with disabilities can explore. Learn more about SOMO's Young Athletes program.
Help expand our Young Athletes and Healthy Athletes programs to more SOMO athletes in our planned Training for Life Campus.
About Special Olympics Missouri.