Healthy Athletes

improving health FOR SUCCESS.

Special Olympics Kansas (SOKS) has offered Healthy Athletes since 2003. This program provides free health screenings to registered SOKS athletes at competition venues and at selected stand alone events. Offered in a welcoming, family friendly and fun environment, these screenings educate athletes on healthy life style choices and attempt to identify potential health issues. When health issues are discovered they are shared with guardians, and when asked SOKS will work with caregivers to develop a follow-up plan with a health professional.


Did you know…

People with intellectual disabilities are at a 40% greater risk for preventable secondary health issues than the general population.

On a national level, studies suggested up to 75% of Special Olympics athletes are considered overweight.

In general health care professionals are not trained in, or experienced with, caring for people with intellectual disabilities

Healthy Athlete Disciplines

Click on a discipline to learn more about our programming and find resources, or find more information on becoming a Clinical Director. 


Athletes might receive referrals for follow-up care from any of the Healthy Athletes screenings, and Special Olympics Kansas is committed to assisting them find the services and resources that they require when they return to their local communities.

We have created a Directory with the contact information of Providers. These Providers have signed an application agreeing to screen individuals with intellectual disabilities.


Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Clinical Directors are trained volunteer professionals who are responsible for working with Special Olympics Kansas Health and Fitness Manager, Erin McDaniel, and other volunteer health professionals to coordinate the SOKS Health Athletes Program. Special Olympics has Clinical Directors who specialize in eyes, ears, mouth and teeth, nutrition, feet, physical therapy, sports medicine, and general medicine. To find out the qualifications for each of health disciplines please click on the link below.

Qualifications to Become a Clinical Director.

Click here to view more details on the role of the Special Smiles Clinical Director



The lack of training of health care providers in caring for people with intellectual disabilities are chief reasons for the health disparities experienced by people with intellectual disabilities.

Healthy Athletes programs are run by trained health care professionals. For more information on Healthy Athletes programs and volunteer requirements contact Erin McDaniel at or 913-600-2296.

Healthy Athletes works to improve access to health care for Special Olympics athletes, makes referrals to local health practitioners where appropriate, and trains health care professionals and (medical) students about the needs and care of individuals with intellectual disabilities. We still have a long way to go to serve the needs of all of our athletes. Here are ways that you can help:

  • If you are a health care professional consider sharing your time and talents as a volunteer at a Healthy Athletes event.
  • If you work in the health profession ask your health care facility to consider opening its doors to our athletes as potential health issues are identified at screenings.
  • If you are a parent of an athlete who participates in the program, consider sharing your thoughts on the value of Healthy Athletes or personal stories of how the program has had an impact on your son or daughter?
  • As a coach or local program coordinator you can continue to support the health and wellness programs and encourage your athletes to attend the screenings.
  • Contribute financially to the program.


Healthy Athletes collects, analyzes, and disseminates data on the health status of Special Olympics athletes, and advocates improved health policies and programs for people with intellectual disabilities. SOKS Health Screenings from 2007-2016 indicate:


of adults are obese


of athletes have exposure to second hand smoke


of youth are obese


of athletes are physically active less than 3 days a week


of athletes have untreated tooth decay


failed a hearing test


of athletes have never had an eye exam


of athletes need a new eye prescription