Volunteering to Support Special Olympics Athletes
Individuals with intellectual disabilities have a one in 50 chance of finding a physician who has current, thorough knowledge of — and is willing to treat — the behavioral issues they often experience.
A partnership between Special Olympics Massachusetts and UMass Medical School aims to change that statistic by
- Improving the quality and availability of health care for individuals with intellectual disabilities
- Providing medical students with opportunities to interact with individuals with intellectual disabilities early in their medical education
“We believe this is a ground-breaking partnership in the world of Special Olympics and the disability community,” said Robert Johnson, President and CEO of Special Olympics Massachusetts. “This partnership will move these issues to the forefront and change the way people such as our athletes receive medical care.”
Commonwealth Medicine’s Office of Program Development facilitates UMass Medical School’s involvement with Special Olympics Massachusetts. Our dedicated consultants work closely with the Medical School’s Office of Communication, Office of Community and Government Relations, Graduate School of Nursing, and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center.
Together, this collaborative team was able to
- Recruit UMass Medical School clinicians and medical students to volunteer to provide health screening for athletes at Special Olympic events
- Solicit volunteers from the Medical School to assist at various Special Olympic events
- Publicize collaborative UMass Medical School–Special Olympic events through websites, brochures, and publications
- Monitor and improve coach training through an online program, maintained by the Medical School, to train and certify coaches
- Develop and implement an instructor-led curriculum at the Medical School to improve health care for individuals with intellectual disabilities
- Train volunteer medical staff for Special Olympics events
The 2011 Special Olympic Winter Games, held in various Worcester locations, featured skiing, basketball, floor hockey, and bowling. The event attracted nearly 2,500 athletes, a significant number of whom went through health screenings provided by Medical School staff. Approximately 130 UMass Medical School clinicians, medical students, and staff volunteered during the games.