What is Health Promotion?

Health Promotion uses interactive educational tools and displays, motivational literature, and demonstrations to raise the awareness of Special Olympics athletes about the need to improve and maintain an enhanced level of wellness and self-care. Additionally, Health Promotion interviews athletes to assess their health habits and conducts health screenings in three key areas: BMI (body mass index) based on height and weight; blood pressure; and bone mineral density. Health Promotion is by design fun, interactive, positive and engaging. In this environment, we help athletes learn how small changes in their behavior can help them improve and maintain good health and sports performance.

Purpose and goals

The mission of Special Olympics Health Promotion is to improve the quality of life and long-term health of Special Olympics athletes and people with intellectual disabilities through healthy behaviors, screenings and medical referrals when appropriate. Objectives of Health Promotion are to:

  • Encourage and enhance healthy behaviors, such as eating fruits and vegetables, handwashing and sun safety.
  • Reduce risky behaviors, such as smoking and poor nutrition.
  • Improve self-efficacy and self-advocacy.
  • Deliver screening services.
  • Increase the investment of health promotion leaders for people with intellectual disabilities.

Importance and impact

At Health Promotion events we learned that a large percentage of Special Olympics athletes have limited knowledge of proper health practices, and many suffer from potentially serious health issues. Below is a snapshot of our data from Healthy Athlete screenings in the U.S. in 2018:

74% of adult athletes are overweight

50% of athletes under 20 years old are overweight

26% have low bone density and increased risk for bone fracture

Clinical Directors

Clinical Directors are an important part of the Healthy Athletes Health Promotion team. Clinical Directors are responsible for working with their local Special Olympics program and other volunteer health professionals in coordinating a Health Promotion event in their region.

View Clinical Director Manual

Jeff Prendergast
Health Programs Coordinator
[email protected]