Healthy Athletes Programme

The Special Olympics Healthy Athletes initiative offers basic health screenings and services to athletes. These services are delivered by qualified medical staff in a fun and welcoming way. Referral to specialised practitioners for further assessment and care is made as required.


People with intellectual disabilities are one of the largest and most medically underserved populations. Because of a range of systemic challenges, including inadequate provider training and inaccessible facilities, they have less access to quality health care and health promotion programs. As a result, people with intellectual disabilities experience dramatically higher rates of preventable disease, chronic pain and suffering, and premature death.


Meeting the health needs for people with intellectual disabilities would reduce disparities, lower health care costs and ensure social justice.

Fit Feet

Fit Feet offers podiatric screenings to evaluate ankles, feet, lower extremity biomechanics, and proper shoe and sock gear to participating athletes. Many athletes suffer from foot and ankle pain, or deformities that impair their performance.

In fact, up to 50% of Special Olympics athletes experience one or more preventable or treatable foot conditions that can affect their sports participation.

Often, these individuals are not wearing the most appropriate shoes and socks for their sport. To alleviate these problems, volunteer foot specialists work with athletes to evaluate problems of the feet, ankles and lower extremity biomechanics.

The Special Olympics Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes® programme is changing lives in communities across the globe, providing free eye assessments, prescription eyewear, sunglasses and sports goggles to people with intellectual disabilities. At the end of the 12-step visual exam, a decision is made if new glasses may be helpful.

The programme also aims at raising eye care professionals' awareness of vision and eye health concerns of people with intellectual disabilities, including difficulties involved in accessing treatment.

Opening Eyes

Special Smiles

Special Smiles is the dental health discipline of Special Olympics Healthy Athletes® that provides athletes with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to take charge of their oral health.

Special Smiles provides comprehensive oral health care information, offers free dental screenings and instructions on correct brushing and flossing techniques to Special Olympics athletes.

It provides dental screenings, personal oral hygiene instruction, sport mouth guards to help prevent dental injuries to athletes competing in contact sports; and fluoride varnish treatment for tens of thousands of athletes worldwide.

Healthy Hearing is changing lives in communities across the globe by providing free hearing screenings and other medical services, including ear wax removal, swim moulds, hearing aid maintenance and minor repairs for people with intellectual disabilities.


The amount of ear problems and hearing loss among Special Olympics athletes is greater than that found in the general population.

Most athletes’ hearing problems are previously undetected, unserved or under-treated. Hearing loss negatively impacts communication ability, quality of life, social interactions and health.

Healthy Hearing


People with intellectual disabilities have more healthcare needs than the general population. In addition, sometimes people with intellectual disabilities don’t realise when they are unwell and don’t take appropriate action or seek medical care. By screening athletes at events, we can help keep them healthy!

If you are a health care professional who would like to donate some of your time to help our athletes, Special Olympics New Zealand would love to hear from you. Contact:

These services are delivered by qualified medical staff in a fun and welcoming way. This programme is offered at National Games and some regional events.

Postal address:

PO Box 38344, Wellington Mail Centre, Lower Hutt 5045

Physical address:

Pelorus Trust Sports House, 93 Hutt Park Road, Seaview, Lower Hutt 5010

Telephone: +64 4 560 0360

Fax: +64 4 560 0040


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