RENO, Nev. (KOLO) – Special Olympics Nevada (SONV) wants to make sure all athletes are living their healthiest and happiest lives.
“Those with intellectual disabilities are sometimes misdiagnosed, they’re the ones that have a very hard time getting proper healthcare,” Harry Mong, Senior Director of Programs and Partnerships with the Special Olympics Nevada said.
According to Special Olympics Nevada, in 2018, more than 500 Special Olympics athletes were given health screenings at a competition. 68% were found to be overweight or obese, 47% were in need of referrals to a dentist, and 38% were wearing the incorrect shoe size.
The Healthy Athletes Program is dedicated to providing free preventative health services and education to Special Olympics athletes. The eight disciplines offered include Medfest (sports physicals), Opening Eyes (Optometry), Healthy Hearing (Audiology), Special Smiles (dental), Health Promotion (promoting healthy living), Strong Minds (emotional wellness), Fun Fitness (physical therapy), and Fit Feet (Podiatry).
“Our goal is to provide as many programs as we can to these athletes; It’s a very underserved population.”
SONV is looking for more healthcare professionals to volunteer with the program, which helps to increase their knowledge of best practices in caring for and communicating with people with intellectual disabilities. Trained healthcare providers demonstrate improved awareness and self-efficacy in providing care for and communicating with patients with intellectual disabilities after completing the training.
Mong added, “They get trained to create an environment that makes it comfortable for someone with an intellectual disability to want to visit a doctor. I truly believe that this is something that could take your profession to the next level.”
Staff says the commitment to becoming a clinical director or volunteer with the Healthy Athletes Program is 2-3 events a year, working around your schedule.
“Nevada is a really big area and we want to try to get into those rural towns too because a lot of the athletes there are missing out on healthcare and our sports,” Mong said.
Right now, training is taking place online due to the Coronavirus. If you’d like to get involved, healthcare workers or students can submit resumes to [email protected].
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