Special Olympics Special Smiles

Special Olympics Healthy Athletes® is the world’s largest public health program for people with intellectual disabilities—a population that faces dramatically greater health issues than others, yet frequently receives inadequate care or no care at all. At Healthy Athletes events, volunteer healthcare professionals provide athletes with free screenings and services in seven clinical areas.

Active in more than 100 countries, the program conducts nearly 200,000 screenings every year, gives referrals for follow-up care and provides tens of thousands of health-related products like prescription eyewear and hearing aids. By training more than 16,000 healthcare professionals and students annually on the specific needs of people with intellectual disabilities, the impact of Healthy Athletes extends far beyond the athletes seen at events. These volunteers return to their schools and medical practices with the knowledge, experience, and desire to better treat people with intellectual disabilities and become forceful advocates for meeting their needs.

Healthy Athletes currently offers health screenings in seven areas: Fit Feet (podiatry), FUNfitness (physical therapy), Health Promotion (better health and well-being), Healthy Hearing (audiology), MedFest (sports physical exam), Opening Eyes (vision) and Special Smiles (dentistry). Officially launched in 1997, Healthy Athletes organizes its events in a welcoming, fun environment. Its screenings educate athletes on healthy lifestyle choices and identify problems that may need additional follow-up.

Get Involved
Join the more than 90,000 health care providers and students worldwide who have volunteered with the Healthy Athletes program and changed the life of a person with intellectual disabilities. They came to help, but they discovered the experience helped them too, and in many cases, changed their lives. If you are a health care professional or student and want to volunteer to help at one of our health screening event, contact the Special Olympics Program closest to you.

What if you could help 200 million people worldwide who suffer needlessly from chronic pain and disease, blindness and hearing loss, shortened life span, and other health conditions? That's what we do everyday!

Why SOSS Volunteers Come Back
The health expertise volunteers possess spans the complete spectrum of medical disciplines from podiatry to dentistry to traditional sports medicine, but one thing they all have in common is the sense of accomplishment and joy they receive from working with athletes with intellectual disabilities at a Healthy Athletes venue. Many volunteers come back event after event for years and say they get more out of the experience than they give.