Health has a substantial impact on quality of life for people with intellectual disabilities (ID) and affects Special Olympics athletes’ ability to train and compete in sports. Despite severe need and higher health risks, people with ID lack access to quality health services and prevention opportunities, resulting in avoidable health conditions at rates higher than peers without ID.


Special Olympics North America presents the SONA Move Challenge, a 6-week movement challenge to see how many minutes of exercise participants can complete each week.
The SONA Move Challenge runs from September 26 – November 6, 2022. Sign up below!


Healthy Athletes is a Special Olympics program that provides free medical screening and education for people with intellectual disabilities.

Through healthy athletes programs, Special Olympics:

  • Ensures quality Health Screenings/Referrals for athletes
  • Offers Health Professionals the opportunity to learn how to treat people with intellectual disabilities and be more prone to welcome them into their practices.

Fit Feet

Fit Feet  helps Special Olympics athletes step lively on the playing field, and in  everyday life. Many athletes suffer from foot and ankle pain, or deformities that impair their performance. In fact, up to 50 percent of Special Olympics athletes experience one or more preventable or treatable foot conditions that can affect their sports participation. Often, these individuals are not fitted with the best shoes and socks for their particular sport. To alleviate these problems, volunteer podiatrists work with athletes to evaluate problems of the feet, ankles and lower extremity biomechanics.

Fun Fitness

Comprehensive, cooperative and educational, FUNfitness is the physical therapy component of Healthy Athletes® that Special Olympics athletes describe as “just plain fun”. Designed to assess and improve an athlete’s flexibility, functional strength, aerobic capacity and balance, volunteer physical therapists, assistants, and students assess the flexibility and functional strength of Special Olympics Athletes’ muscles, as well as overall balance at FUNfitness screenings. The FUNfitness curriculum was developed for Special Olympics Healthy Athletes by the American Physical Therapy Association.

Health Promotion

Health Promotion Programs validate the success of the diverse approaches offered, along with positive psychosocial and health benefits:
Improved perceived health;

Reduction in body weight;

  • Improved self-confidence;
  • Enhanced attitudes toward physical activity;
  • Increased fiber intake; and
  • Decreased perceived barriers.

Healthy Hearing

As the audiological component of Healthy Athletes®, Healthy Hearing was created to assess the hearing of athletes using multiple screening methods such as pure tone testing and tympanometry. In some cases, like at the 2007 Special Olympics World Summer Games, healthy Hearing volunteers are able to provide free hearing aids that immediately restore hearing for athletes, thanks to corporate donations.

*Healthy Hearing is offered during Spring and Summer Games.


​The goals of MedFest include: offer a free sports physical and other health examination services to people with intellectual disabilities, recruit new athletes to Special Olympics, foster new partnerships between Special Olympics and the community, and provide physicians, nurses and other health care providers with training and specialized experience in caring for people with intellectual disabilities.

Opening Eyes

With eyes wide open to the needs of people with intellectual disabilities, Special Olympics – Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes®, was created to provide free vision screening for Special Olympics athletes.

Opening Eyes also works to educate athletes, parents and coaches about the importance of regular eye care, and enlightens and alters the attitudes of eye care professionals about the vision care needs of people with intellectual disabilities. Professionals can also earn continuing education  credits.

**Opening Eyes is offered during Summer Games

Special Smiles

Special Smiles has demonstrated remarkable success in its mission to increase access to dental care for Special Olympics athletes, and to all people with intellectual disabilities. Today, Special Smiles is considered a leading advocate on standards for care an equality-of-care issues.

The scope of Special Smiles has been expanded to include:

  • Initiatives to increase public, governmental and professional awareness of oral health problems faces by people with disabilities.
  • Dental education programs for dental professionals, dental schools, community residences, institutional facilities and Special Olympics athletes.
  • Sports injury prevention programs.
  • Nutritional guidelines and programs for our athletes.
  • Research on the oral health needs of people with disabilities, for use in health care reform; and fabrication of adaptive devices and oral facial sports programs for people with quadriplegia.

*Special Smiles is offered during Spring, and Summer Games.

Strong Minds

Strong Minds is an interactive learning activity focused on developing adaptive coping skills. Competition provides a natural opportunity to develop active strategies for maintaining emotional wellness under stress, such as: thinking positive thoughts, releasing stress and connecting with others.


Healthy Communities is working to increase access to quality health care and prevention programming to improve the health status of people with intellectual disabilities.

SOMS is working to create Healthy Communities through:

Training Health Professionals

Developing Community Partnerships

Providing ongoing Health and Wellness Activities

Conducting Healthy Athlete Screenings








Provide financial support or facilities/clinics for Healthy Athletes screenings and/or follow-up treatments.


Ask your doctors, dentists, etc. if they would like to volunteer at our next healthy athlete event.