Special Olympics International


The American Association on Health and Disability (AAHD) and Special Olympics International (SOI) will collaborate on a 5 year cooperative agreement funded by the CDC, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD) to create a tipping point for inclusive health of people with Intellectual Disabilities (ID), whereby the inclusion of those with ID becomes normalized in mainstream health policies, programming and services, training programs and funding streams.  The project will continue to utilize the approach depicted in the Social Ecological Framework by implementing local health promotion programming, to include SOI Healthy Athletes program, creating an enabling environment with augmented community support mechanism, and strengthening the nation’s capacity for inclusive health.   The long term impact of the project is to create access to quality health prevention and are for future generations of people with ID.  The network of 52 Special Olympics (SO) Programs along with SOI will work together to achieve the project’s outcomes.   Essential to this project, is the role of key health influencers on a state and national level must be targeted for this initiative and mobilized to include change.

Due to the numerous disparities that exist within the health of people with ID, the project will focus on the leading health disparity within the population, obesity to begin progress towards reaching the tipping point for inclusive health and create a model for addressing other disparities.  Obesity is identified as the leading health disparity for people with ID, however, there is a lack of education and training for health influencers to help combat obesity inclusively.  Lack of environmental supports to achieve healthy weight causes rates for individuals with ID to be 28.9% -50.5% or two times higher than those with ID.  By providing training tools and resources to health influencers to deliver inclusive programs in the community, this project will be educating those who can aid in creating an enabling environment to achieve healthy weight and other health disparities affecting the broader community.

SOI will be directly partnering with the American Association on Health and Disability, the Association of University Centers on Disabilities, and the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Disability on this project.  AAHD’s role will be in the area of information dissemination and outreach, both internally to SOI programs and externally to health influencers.  AAHD will disseminate resources created by Special Olympics health programs to both SO programs and external organizations and influencers. AAHD will review external resources that are of value to SO programs internally for use in local programming.  AAHD will be involved in material review and identification of evidenced based practices of value to the SO community.  Ultimately, public awareness of the health needs of people with ID will increase through AAHD strategic dissemination and outreach strategies.  An Advisory Panel will be formed to provide additional guidance on identifying relevant evidenced based materials and develop dissemination strategies.  AAHD will also monitor national health care policy that impacts people with ID.

Special Olympics Resources:

      • Healthy Communities Resources Page
        This is housed on the internal resources page, providing SO Programs all of the information on project planning and grant requirements, tips and tools on wellness programs, follow up care, athlete leadership, and health data.
      • Research Resources Page
        This is housed on the internal resources page, providing a summary of all the areas of SO programming (such as Sports and Games), including key research findings, and additional research articles to the specific programming areas.
      • Healthy Athletes Resources Page
        This is also housed on the internal resources page, providing all the resources in each of the Healthy Athletes disciplines to SO Programs, Clinical Directors, and others.