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HR@PAHO/WHO
Inclusive Health for All

Our vision is to create a world where people with and without intellectual disabilities (ID) have the same opportunities to be healthy. When people with ID have access to health services, they also have more opportunities for education, employment, sports, and other pathways to reach full participation in society. Our goal is 11 million people with ID with improved access to health by 2020.

Special Olympics Health, made possible by the Golisano Foundation, began in 1997 with Healthy Athletes®. Since then, we have provided millions of free health screenings and empowered athletes to become wellness leaders in their communities. Special Olympics also works directly with international organizations and ministries of health to create sustainable health services fully inclusive of people with ID.

Every day, we are breaking down barriers that prevent people with intellectual disabilities (ID) from receiving the same access to quality health care and attention as people without ID. In 2017, Special Olympics Health made stunning leaps in improving education, inclusion and care. Since Special Olympics Healthy Athletes® was founded 20 years ago, the program has conducted more than 2 million health screenings for our athletes. We have also trained more than 240,000 health-care professionals in over 135 countries.

Our health partnerships are crucial to expanding this work around the world. Most visibly, since 2012, our partnership with the Golisano Foundation has been unlocking doors to quality health screenings, follow-up care, plus fitness and prevention programming for people with ID worldwide. Our Golisano partnership also enables us to collaborate with international organizations, providers and health-care authorities to better meet the needs of this neglected population.

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This year also marked a major expansion in Healthy Communities®-- our successful model that ensures year-round access to quality health care and prevention programming for people with ID.There are now more than 50 Special Olympics Healthy Communities in five Regions around the world.

This year, Special Olympics entered into a formal partnership with Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO). The shared goal is to create sustainable health systems and services inclusive of all people with ID. In the USA, there was also a major increase in collaboration and funding from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. This is working to implement health programs and launch medical school curricula more inclusive of people with ID, among other breakthroughs.

In 2017, Healthy Athletes officially welcomed an eighth discipline: Strong Minds. The focus is on helping athletes strengthen their coping skills and maintain emotional wellness, even under stress.

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Throughout, Special Olympics athletes continue to take the lead as Health Messengers by inspiring their teams and communities to develop healthy lifestyles. They are also advocating within their communities for inclusion in health and wellness services, education and resources for people with ID.

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