Special Olympics: Dedicated to the Health of People with Intellectual Disabilities

Healthy Living GoalDespite a mistaken belief that people with disabilities receive the same or better health care than others, they typically receive less care, sub-standard care, or  no health care at all.

This has led Special Olympics to become not just a global inclusive sports organization but also the largest global public health organization dedicated to serving people with intellectual disabilities. People with disabilities should have access to the same health and wellness services and be able to achieve the same good health as the general population.

A close-up picture of a doctor and young boy. The doctor uses a tongue depressor to look into the boy's mouth. The doctor is wearing a Special Olympics shirt.

Healthy Athletes Clinic at Work

Healthy Athletes®

Many of our athletes come to us with neglected health problems. We offer a wide range of free health examinations and care through the Healthy Athletes ® program. At more than 1.4 million free health screening clinics in more than 100 countries, the Healthy Athletes program offers health services and information to athletes in dire need. Through Healthy Athletes, more than 100,000 health care professionals have been trained to treat people with intellectual disabilities, and these health care professionals in turn provide improved care to millions. Special Olympics has also built the world’s largest database of health data for people with intellectual disabilities and its health work is not just helping individuals, it is improving health systems and policies for people with disabilities. Learn more about Healthy Athletes.

The success and impact of Healthy Athletes led to the creation of the Healthy Communities initiative, which provides comprehensive, community-based health and wellness and is generously supported by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Golisano Foundation. Read more about Healthy Communities.

Sports and Physical Activity Resources

We provide extensive free information on sports and fitness tailored to people with intellectual disabilities through our Sports and Physical Activity Fact Sheets and Coach Guides.


This is a Special Olympics fitness screening event developed in collaboration with the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA. The goals of FUNfitness include assessing needs in flexibility, strength, balance, and aerobic fitness; teaching exercises to help athletes improve identified areas of need; and educating participants, families and coaches about the importance of flexibility, strength, balance, and aerobic conditioning in overall fitness. More information on FUNfitnesscan be found here.

Young Athletes

This is an innovative sports play program for children ages 2-7 with intellectual disabilities and their peers, designed to introduce them into the world of sports. The benefits of Young Athletes have been proven worldwide. First and foremost, these activities  help children thrive physically, cognitively and socially.

Three Special Olympics athletes train on stationary bikes in a gym.

Special Olympics Athletes in Triathlon Training

Project UNIFY®

This is an education and sports based strategy powered by an engaged youth community that increases athletic and leadership opportunities for students with and without intellectual disabilities. While promoting physical activity and making it fun, Project UNIFY® also creates communities of acceptance for all.


About Special Olympics

Special Olympics is an international organization that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports every day around the world. Through work in sports, health, education and community building, Special Olympics addresses inactivity, injustice, intolerance and social isolation by encouraging and empowering people with intellectual disabilities, which leads to a more welcoming and inclusive society. Visit Special Olympics at www.specialolympics.org.

5 runners race toward the finish line and straight toward the camera  on an outdoor track.

Athletes race toward the finish line.

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