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University of Iowa News Release

March 14, 2006

Healthy Athletes Helps Special Olympians

Along with fierce competition and shiny medals, athletes competing at the 2006 Mid-Winter Special Olympics on Saturday, March 18 in the University of Iowa Field House will also receive a healthy dose of attention to their health.

Healthy Athletes, an initiative associated with Special Olympics, will provide health screenings and education for competitors. More than 900 athletes, competing in cheerleading, gymnastics and powerlifting, and their coaches will be encouraged to participate in the Healthy Athletes venue. Health promotion booths will help educate athletes on topics including sun safety, smoking avoidance and nutrition. Volunteer audiologists will offer complimentary hearing tests to competitors, and the athletes also will receive height and weight assessments. 

Healthy Athletes is intended to help Special Olympics athletes improve their health and fitness, leading to enhanced sports experience and improved well-being. It was founded in 1996 in an effort to address health disparities and secondary conditions persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities face, including obesity, poor fitness, nutritional deficits, untreated or poorly treated vision deficits, and dental, hearing and podiatric problems. Because all of these conditions are preventable, specialists say it is important that athletes and coaches be kept aware of their existence among the population and be given the tools and education to avoid them. 

The Center for Disabilities and Development (CDD) at UI Hospitals and Clinics is a supporter in this year's festivities including Healthy Athletes. The CDD's mission to "improve the health and independence of people with disabilities and advance the community systems on which they rely" is in direct accordance with the missions and goals of the Special Olympics. Anne Tabor, the nutrition supervisor from the CDD, supports the initiative and will design healthy lifestyle educational activities for the event.

The Special Olympics and Healthy Athletes are primarily supported by donations and grants. The events are staffed by volunteers. It offers an ideal opportunity for individuals, associations and businesses across Iowa to get involved with the community. More information about donations, sponsorship and volunteering opportunities for Iowa's Special Olympic events can be found at www.soiowa.org. 

More information is available online at www.soiowa.org or by calling Iowa Special Olympics at 515-986-5520.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at http://www.uihealthcare.com.

STORY SOURCE: Center for Disabilities and Development, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, 100 Hawkins Drive, Iowa City, Iowa 52242

CONTACTS: Media: Tom Moore, 319-356-3945, thomas-moore@uiowa.edu; Program: Anne Tabor, 319-356-1322, anne-tabor@uiowa.edu