SO Europe Eurasia Foundation is a not for profit organization that provides year-round public health services to children and adults with intellectual disabilities through grass roots sports training and competition, multi-disciplinary health screening and intervention programs, promoting public health and early childhood development in all 28 EUan Union Member States, serving over 450,000 participating athletes. SO Europe Eurasia Foundation (SOEEF)supports public health activities operating from offices in Dublin, Brussels and Warsaw, and supports the presence of national Special Olympics offices in all 28 Member States, SO cooperate and assist local services, agencies and organisations dedicated to the promotion of physical fitness and mental well being of people with intellectual disabilities and develops activities and programmes across EU and across borders that enables Special Olympics athletes to take a fuller and more active role in their community and society in general.
SOEE plays an active role in supporting the development of 28 National Special Olympics Programmes in EU- assisting them to become better known, better funded and more successful in both expanding and improving physical and mental health through sports opportunities and other initiatives which include
The Healthy Athletes program - multidisciplinary public health screening and intervention program for all participating Special Olympics athletes. Healthy Athletes is designed to improve the athlete`s ability to train and compete, as well as offer positive health outcomes for their daily lives. It has become one of the world`s leaders in offering specialized health training courses on the health status of persons with intellectual disabilities, as well as how to treat this often marginalized population. Healthy Athletes consists of seven disciplinary screening programs, including: vision care, oral health, hearing care, physical therapy, standard sports physicals, podiatric medicine, and nutrition counseling. Special Olympics has the potential to provide a number of health interventions to provide sustained positive impact.
The SO Europe Eurasia Foundation (SOEEF) is dedicated to providing critical services to children and adults with intellectual disabilities through ongoing training and competition, physical activities, inclusive sport, social inclusive initiatives and health services in all 28 Member States. The objectives are to offer quality training, competition, health screenings, and ongoing inclusive opportunities to athletes to maximize individual athlete potential,promote health and a healthy lifestyle both in sport and daily life, whilst reducing health inequalities and improving access to quality health services for people with intellectual disabilities.
Special Olympics Europe Eurasia and its partner national programs provides its service to almost half a million individuals with intellectual disabilities across the EU driven mainly by volunteers.
The Healthy Athletes (HA) program provides access to health care for SO Athletes not only to improve their ability to improve health and fitness levels or to train and compete in SO events, but also to identify health care needs and to improve quality of health care for people with intellectual disabilities. The integrated health and physical activity action plan improves public health and reduces health inequalities of people with intellectual disabilities. In addition, with a number of health interventions (ie, prescription eye glasses, hearing instruments, bone density testing, etc), Special Olympics Europe Eurasia health programming is taking an active role in trying to reverse these inequalities and create a healthier future for persons with intellectual disabilities, including a future with more access to quality health services and an adequately trained health care community.
Data Management: clinical screening data is recorded on standardized evaluation forms and entered into the Healthy Athletes Software (HAS) system. Through the utilization of this database, HA is able to determine prevalence rates of certain conditions, detect growing trends, identify regional commonalities, and better understand the health status of different demographics within the global population segment of persons with ID.
Training of health care professionals to run HA in their countries through standard Train the Trainer model, providing needed technical assistance at all levels.
Special Olympics fosters and promotes health through a number of sport and training initiatives around 28 Olympic type of sports as well as motor activity training programs (MATP). MATP creates the "bridge" between just Physical Rehabilitation (physiotherapy) and sport for individuals with severe and profound intellectual disabilities that cannot participate in regular type of sport due to their limitations. There are gym and water activities in MATP Program with at least 30-40 different simple - individual activities which can lead to simplest sport activities.
The SOEEF Unified Sports program brings equal numbers of young people with intellectual disabilities (“athletes”) and without intellectual disabilities (“partners”) aged 12-25 together on inclusive sports teams for regular training and competition following a specific concept to match players with similar abilities on the same teams. The inclusive aspect of Unified Sports fosters health of those that are often neglected in society and prevents especially mental health issues through active social participation and inclusion in communities. Currently SOEEF provides Unified Sports in 20 EU countries.
The Athlete Leadership Programs (ALPs) focus on SKILLS and ABILITIES of persons with intellectual disabilities. The Athlete Leadership Program provides a way for athletes to showcase their talents and interests, undergo training to improve fitness and learn new skills. The Program gives Special Olympics athletes the opportunity to take on new roles and responsibilities, on and off the sports field. ALPS provides a essential impact to Athletes life and empowers them to manage their own life style and health
A key goal of Special Olympics is to provide year-round public health services to people with intellectual disabilities through physical activity, multi-disciplinary health screening and intervention programs, promoting public health and early childhood development aiming to improve the well-being of SO athletes and foster improved access to health and physical activities for people with ID in general.
objective 1: provide screening and education for SO athletes to improve (i) their knowledge about reducing health risk factors such as obesity etc. by capturing their health status and give out recommendations based on these data (ii) as well as improve health care for people with ID through training of health care professionals at Healthy events and (iii) provide publications on findings of the health of people with ID.
- organise and run at least 12 HA events (12 countries) screen and educate at least 5000 athletes and involve at least 2.000 health care professionals/students following standardized screening set ups and screening protocols
- train the health care professionals and students through standardized training manuals and materials such as DVDs etc. and hands on experience.
- train new Clinical Directors to implement new HA disciplines/events
- screen athletes following standardized screening protocols (available) and provide education and recommendations/referalls if necessary (available, e.g. athlete score cards, choose to change cards, referral forms, brochures)
- provide free of charge eye glasses and protective eyeglasses and hearing aids (in selected countries)
- collect screening data through HA data entry into online based HA software (available)
- run data reports and statistics as well as evaluation of the event (evaluation tools available) and publish them in professional magazines, newsletters, SO online platforms (available)
- at least 5.000 athletes received screening and education, athletes in need were provided with prescription eye glasses and hearing aids (at selected events)
- at least 2.000 health care professionals and students received hands on training on how to screen and interact with people with ID and are more confident to treat this population in their professional life
- at least 5 articles in professional publications.
- overall goal is to improve health care for people with ID
objective 2: Improve knowledge of family members on health issues of people with ID and provide relevant information on local health services available and access to health care for people with special needs provided by local stakeholders incl. Universities and specialised health prof. The overall goal is to help empower athletes and families to manage health on their own
- conduct at least 5 family health forums (FHF) in 5 different EU countries involving at least 20 families at each event & local stakeholder addressing needs for families of people with ID in relation to health and access to quality health aiming common health issues as obesity, cardiovascular and further secondary preventable health issues of this population
- provide health information for families of people with ID
- at least 100 Families received information on health issues of people with ID and how to improve their well being (through physical activity, healthy life style etc.)
- local service providers (health care providers, public health programs for people with ID are presented to the families.
Objective 3: provide interventions for early childhood development for children with ID (a.2-7) involving their parents to improve knowledge on health risk factors of the children and prevention involving health care professionals.
-conduct at least 4 "Young Athletes" HA events in 4 EU states involving at least 20 children/parents per event and at least 100 health prof. in total
-improved knowledge amongst the parents and prof. on health issues of children with ID.