This weekend, 2,000 Special Olympics athletes will compete in the Special Olympics Oregon Summer State Games. At the same time, they will be helping Oregon State University further research related to the health of people with intellectual disabilities. Oregon State is host of the the Summer State Games, where athletes participate in track and field, bocce, golf and softball.
Throughout the weekend, two special programs will be taking place at the same time: Healthy Athletes and Oregon Team Wellness.
The Healthy Athletes program provides free health screenings, where strength, flexibility, balance and endurance are tested on site. Athletes are later given a take-home program based on their results. The goal is to further improve and encourage participation in sports and recreational activities.
Oregon Team Wellness, presented by the Special Olympics Oregon, is designed for those with intellectual disabilities. The program incorporates incentives and rewards to reach benchmarks, with the ultimate goal of lifelong healthy choices and habits. Other states in the Northwest have adopted this program that started in Oregon.
“There still is this misconception that if you have a disability, then you cannot be healthy,” said Gloria Krahn, the Barbara Emily Knudson Endowed Chair in family policy studies at Oregon State University, in a press release. “I would’ve thought that after 25 years, we would be past some of that. Special Olympics is helping bring about that change.”
All the research and information gathered this weekend will go into one of the largest data sets for people with intellectual disabilities in the world.