A Call to Action: The Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Program and the Importance for Public Health and Nutrition Professionals to Become Involved Public Deposited

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  • February 28, 2019
  • Lovell, Eli
    • Affiliation: Gillings School of Global Public Health, Department of Nutrition
  • Physical activity and participation in sports and active play are essential parts of a healthy lifestyle. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), physical activity creates a healthy individual both physically and mentally. “Regular physical activity increases lean body mass, muscle, and bone strength and promotes good physical health. It fosters psychological well-being, can increase self-esteem and capacity for learning, and can help children and adolescents handle stress (AAP, 2008).” Special Olympics was founded on the principle that physical activity through sports is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. Special Olympics recognized that individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID) were not being provided ample opportunity to participate in sports and physical activity. Special Olympics has helped to address this problem. However, physical activity is but one component of health and Special Olympics realized that they were in a unique position to do more to help improve the overall health status of their athletes. Individuals with ID are at a higher risk of suffering from preventable and chronic health conditions and thus experience higher rates of morbidity and mortality when compared to the general population (Krahn et al, 2006). Thus, Special Olympics created the Healthy Athletes program to help address the special health care needs of their athletes. This paper provides information on the health status of individuals with ID and describes the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes program which seeks to address these health concerns. Most importantly, this paper serves as a call to action for health professionals, specifically public health and nutrition professionals, to become involved with this population either through educating oneself on the special needs of individuals with ID or by participating in programs such as the Healthy Athletes program.
Date of publication
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  • In Copyright
  • Ward, Dianne
  • Master of Public Health
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 2014
Deposit record
  • ec6acc1f-dd30-446a-a923-ede8671f2c72

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