Background

Report on Health Disparities Experienced by Special Olympics Athletes

Healthy Athletes 2018 Prevalence Report - Cover Image

Introduction
Special Olympics (SO) provides year-round sports training and athletic competition to more than 5 million people with intellectual disabilities (ID) in 174 countries. Through sports, SO gives people with ID continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and the community. In addition to sports, SO has several health programs, including Healthy Athletes, Healthy Communities, Fitness programs, and Family Health Forums.

Global Health Strategy
The 2016-2020 Special Olympics International (SOI) Health Strategy focuses on reducing health disparities individuals with ID face. In creating opportunities for inclusive health for all people with ID, inclusion becomes normalized in mainstream health policies, programming, services, training programs, and funding streams. SOI has set a goal to improve access to health for 11 million persons with ID by 2020 (the 11 by 20 Campaign).

The campaign is rooted in the Constitution of the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD) and other universal and regional human rights instruments, SO Strategic Plan 2016-2020, and in the universal principle of “full participation of persons with ID.”

National health systems must include people with ID to be most effective in promoting inclusion and protecting fundamental human rights. Special Olympics is committed to unlocking access to healthcare and services to 11 million people with ID by strengthening these existing health systems with a human rights-based approach. This improved access to comprehensive quality health services and prevention programs will contribute to SO’s mission of improving athlete physical fitness and general health and well being.

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