Special Olympics keeping athletes healthy with new initiatives

Guest post by Lindsay Bartsch 

Special Olympics Hamilton County is a sports organization that is dedicated to changing the lives of our athletes: adults and children with intellectual disabilities. Our mission is to provide our athletes with the chance to develop fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and to be included in a community.

Special Olympics, as an international organization, is moving towards the goal of not only having competitive athletes, but also having healthy and safe athletes. The Healthy Athletes Program and other health initiatives have been started and are being adopted in Ohio and Hamilton County.

In Hamilton County, we are constantly trying to improve the health of our athletes, from children to adults. We have begun weekly fitness programs, run and walk clubs, and host a Get Fit for Sport Challenge. All of these programs teach athletes the importance of being healthy and allow them to do so in a space they feel safe.

In our Get Fit Program, we learn about a topic each week ranging from nutrition, healthy habits, stress, and overall wellness. We also exercise each week. Exercises for our fall 2017 class will be implemented by students from the University of Cincinnati, College of Allied Health.

In our fitness and walk/run programs, our athletes meet each week with a group of volunteers to exercise. These Unified clubs allow our athletes to be involved in the community and to make friends outside of Special Olympics. Our clubs are also a great way to get involved and be in a group that puts athletes and their typical peers on the same level. We are working towards getting activity band trackers for our athletes and volunteers to set challenges for themselves.

Hamilton County’s newest initiative will be to start incorporating Special Olympics Fit 5 into our sports training programs and other fitness programs. We also hope to incorporate this into our schools! Fit 5 is a program that puts importance on education on health – implementing 5 days of exercise, 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, and 5 water bottles per day. This initiative is an easy way to get athletes involved with their healthy lifestyle outside of training. Fit 5 also comes with an activity tracker to make it easier to follow your healthy habits.

All of our fitness programs are encouraged to be inclusive, inviting, and meant for the entire support system around the athlete.

If you are an athlete looking to get involved, a volunteer, a fitness guru who wants to offer expertise, or even just want to find a new workout group, our doors are always open! Please contact Lindsay at Lindsay.bartsch@specialolympcis-hc.org or call the Special Olympics Hamilton County office at 513-271-2606.

Lindsay Bartsch is the Assistant Program Director at Special Olympics Hamilton County, a WeTHRIVE! partner.