Creating healthy athletes at Special Olympics Indiana


“I think people with special needs don’t always comprehend what they really need to take care of their own self.”

Special Olympics Indiana athlete Nicholas Herran knows his heath is a priority before, during and especially after the Summer Games.

“So many athletes come and feel like they only need to do it for the practices and through getting ready for the competitions,” he explained. “But it’s not that, it’s all 365 days of the year.”

During the games, Special Olympics Indiana officials, including Health Manager Abbie Ivaldi, are encouraging athletes to develop healthier habits.

This way they come back next year healthier and stronger.

“I have seen first hand some people with intellectual disabilities that could utilize the resources that we offer,” said Ivaldi.

Healthy Athletes, an organization within Special Olympics Indiana, is offering free health screenings for athletes.

“The disciplines that we offer are Fit Feet, Fun Fitness, Healthy Hearing, Health Promotion, Opening Eyes and Special Smiles,” said Ivaldi.

These quick and painless, “mini check-ups” are all performed by volunteer licensed professionals, and help identify and address any health concerns an athlete may have.

As an athlete, Herran has seen and lived the difference this program is making for those with special needs.

“There were some years where I didn’t take care of myself and then come to the games,” he said. “And I’ve been helping with Special Olympics and been a part of Special Olympics for ten years and to see the changes, it’s amazing.”

Herran has created a video platform that will directly instruct and encourage athletes to take care of themselves before, during and after the games.

The cartoon takes place at the Summer Games and is voiced by current athletes.

Herran says the idea is still in the blueprint stage, but soon the video will be viewed by athletes all over Indiana.

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