Healthy Athletes Program Prepares and Educates Competitors to Achieve Good Health

THUNDER BAY, ON, February 24, 2020 – As Special Olympics athletes prepare for competing in the Special Olympics Canada Winter Games Thunder Bay 2020, they are being reminded that being healthy is more than just being physically active. Special Olympics Canada is offering free health services and education for all athletes with its Healthy Athletes program.

Research has shown that people with intellectual disabilities have higher needs and health risks, yet are often denied necessary health services. They are 40 per cent more likely to acquire a preventable secondary health condition such as obesity, nutritional deficit, untreated or poorly treated vision, dental, hearing and podiatric problems. Causes are attributed to a lack of health education, health promotion and health care. The Healthy Athletes program was founded with the goal of addressing these issues.

Designed for people with intellectual disabilities, the program is offered around the world and includes a range of screenings that support a holistic approach to health for athletes. The program also facilitates important change in the way health professionals interact with people with intellectual disabilities.

Because of the screenings offered through the program, Special Olympics has become the largest global health organization dedicated to serving people with an intellectual disability.

At the 2020 Games, athletes will be able to access the following services:

  • Health Promotion – nutrition, hydration, BMI and healthy living techniques
  • FUNfitness – physiotherapy, flexibility, balance and injury prevention
  • Special Smiles – dental screening and education
  • Opening Eyes – optometry and free eyewear
  • Strong Minds – mental health and adaptive coping skills

Athletes will also benefit from the Head Safe program thanks to Platinum Sponsor Hydro One Inc. The program provides resources and training opportunities to prevent and respond to head injuries, including how to recognize the early symptoms of a concussion.

Athletes will have opportunity to access the free programming until Wednesday, February 26.

To stay up-to-date on activities throughout the week, follow the Games Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages @SOCgames2020. For more information, including the competition schedule, visit


About The Games

The Special Olympics Canada Winter Games are a multi-sport national event for athletes with an intellectual disability. The Games will be hosted in Thunder Bay, Ontario from February 25 to 29, 2020 and will welcome over 1,200 athletes, coaches and mission staff from across Canada. The Games will include competition in eight official Special Olympics sports: alpine skiing, five-pin bowling, cross country skiing, curling, figure skating, floor hockey, snowshoeing and speed skating. These national games are the qualifying event for athletes to become members of Team Canada attending the Special Olympics World Winter Games. Learn more at

For more information, please contact:

Ashleigh Quarrell
Media Lead, Special Olympics Canada Winter Games Thunder Bay 2020
Phone: (807) 627-7240

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