Health Programs

This page contains a list of common questions that are asked about our Health Programs.

We are constantly updating our list of frequently asked questions so please check here first for answers to your questions.

How is consent obtained from athletes?

Athletes and/or legal guardians are required to sign a standardized consent form when they register for an event or on the day of the event if they would like to participate in a Healthy Athletes screening. words  

For additional information please visit:  www.specialolympicsontario.com/health  

Why is data collected?

Data is collected for a number of reasons, below are some the reason why data is collected in conjunction with a Healthy Athletes screening:  

  • To learn about the health needs of Special Olympics athletes, 
  • To create educational materials 
  • To advocate for programs, resources and policies to enhance health care for individuals with 
  • Intellectual disabilities. 
  • To electronically store and retrieve information from screenings

Is data collected during Healthy Athletes screenings?

Yes, data is collected through the Healthy Athletes Software system (HAS), which enables the electronic capture of screening data across the Healthy Athletes disciplines.   

Can athletes not participating in a competition participate Healthy Athletes screenings?

Yes, non-participating athletes, as well as any individual with an intellectual disability (including those who are not registered with Special Olympics Ontario), is eligible to participate in the screening. 

What is required to run a Health Athletes event?

  • A local sporting event or non-sport related event with 70 or more Special Olympic athlete participants 
  • At least 65 days’ notice before the scheduled event 
  • 2-4 rooms/spaces in close proximity to the playing field, gym or event space 
  • Access to tables and chairs (not mandatory) 
  • Scheduled breaks for the athletes to attend the Healthy Athletes screening 
  • Pre-event distribution of the Healthy Athletes Consent Form and event details 

When are Healthy Athletes scheduled?

Healthy Athletes are scheduled throughout the year during scheduled Special Olympics events and tournaments.  Locations can be determined based on requests from community and staff members.  Healthy Athletes Major competitions and Games.  

Who facilitates the Healthy Athletes screening?

The Healthy Athletes program is delivered by health care professionals and health care students who volunteer their time and expertise to Special Olympics. They all take part in Special Olympics orientation training to gain a greater understanding of the health needs and abilities of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  A Special Olympics staff member oversees the organization and set-up of the screening while a trained Clinical Director oversee the medical aspects of the screening.  

What health topics are included in Healthy Athletes?

Currently, Special Olympics conducts eight disciplines of health exams free of charge for athletes:  


  • Fit Feet is a podiatric screening evaluating ankles, feet, lower extremity biomechanics, and proper shoe and sock gear.  


  • FUNfitness, developed in collaboration with the American Physical Therapy Association, is a fitness screening program designed to assess and improve all components of fitness (strength, flexibility, balance, and aerobic conditioning), and to educate on the importance of and methods for becoming and staying physically fit.
  • Health Promotion provides clinical screenings in bone density, blood pressure, and BMI and offers health information and education in the areas of nutrition, sun safety, bone density, tobacco cessation, and physical fitness.
  • Healthy Hearing is a hearing exam designed to ensure proper audiological care and to assess ear hygiene, as well as fit athletes with hearing aids where appropriate.
  • MedFest facilitates the acquisition of the standard sports physical required under the General Rules of SOI. The exam consists of medical history, height and weight, blood pressure, cardiology test, musculoskeletal test, orthopedic tests, and abdominal evaluation.
  • Special Olympics-Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes program is a vision and eye health assessment. Opening Eyes offers prescription eyewear, sunglasses, and sports goggles to SO athletes.
  • Special Smiles offers oral screening, oral health information, and instructions on brushing and flossing properly, as well as preventative supplies such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, and floss.
  • Strong Minds is the newest discipline Special Olympics offers and is still in the pilot phase. Data has not yet been collected for this discipline 

What is Healthy Athletes?

People with ID have poorer health, more specialized health care needs, and greater difficulty in accessing health care services compared to the general population. To address these problems, Special Olympics International (SOI) implemented the Healthy Athletes program to:

  • Provide athletes with health exams and referrals for follow-up care when needed;
  • Provide training for health care providers in working with patients with intellectual disabilities;
  • Provide the basis for improved programs & policies.