The 2011 Special Olympics World Summer Games has returned to the birthplace of sport. Hosted by the city of Athens, Greece, the Games are currently running through to July 4, where more than 7,000 Special Olympics athletes from nearly 180 countries are competing in 22 Olympic-type sports - the largest international multi-sport event of this year. At 146 members strong, including 106 athletes and 40 coaches and mission staff from across the country, Team Canada is anticipating great things in Athens.
One of the goals of the Special Olympics program at Games time is to offer many non-sporting opportunities for the competing athletes. Diverse areas like health care, leadership training, legislative self advocacy and employment, is where Special Olympics takes a leadership role. One of many of those in the health care sector is the Healthy Athletes Program. This is a vital opportunity designed to improve the athletes' health and fitness by receiving a free health examination and they are also provided with health-related advice that will help them develop good living habits and improve their own health situation. The Healthy Athletes Program is made up of six disciplines including Fit Feet, Fun Fitness, Healthy Hearing, Health Promotion, Opening Eyes® and Special Smiles®. With Healthy Athletes, Special Olympics is the largest public health organization specifically for people with intellectual disabilities.
The Special Olympics is a worldwide organization that improves lives every day of the year. From its starting days in the mid-1960s backyard of Eunice Kennedy-Shriver to today, the Special Olympics have evolved to a globally unifying movement offering opportunities to over 3 million athletes with intellectual disabilities from all over the world. They continue to reinforce the athlete’s self-esteem, their health, their special abilities, and become active and useful members of their societies.
Please visit SIRC for more information on the Special Olympics.
Special Olympics Canada
Photos courtesy of Special Olympics Canada
Photo 1: Team Canada in Athens
Photo 2: The 4x100m women's relay swim team (L to R) Justine Morrier, the 15 year-old from Ste Jean-sur-Richelieu, Meagan Michie from Metcalf, Ontario, Erica Buehlow from Brighton, Ontario, and Robin Crandall from Niagara.
Photo 3: Sara Albers and honourary athlete Darryl Sittler.