Special Olympics: Helping Athletes Hear their Best in Inverness, Florida

Special Olympics was founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver to “provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities (ID), giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community.”

Special Olympics Healthy Athletes was founded in 1997 due to the general lack of services and providers for individuals with ID. The program began offering free health screenings and education to Special Olympics athletes and their families, in a welcoming and fun environment. The goal was, and continues to be, to improve access to quality health care for the 11 million people with ID. When individuals with ID have access to health services, they also have more opportunities for education, employment, sports, and other pathways to reach full participation in society. Impaired coping abilities and communication skills – common among people with ID – can mask health concerns, leading to a breakdown in the quality of health care and health education, for people with ID. The Healthy Athletes program is the largest provider of health information to the CDC for individuals with ID.

Dr. Angela Schenk has volunteered with Healthy Athletes for many years and recently became a certified Clinical Director for Citrus County and surrounding areas. Dr. Schenk will be providing hearing screenings and hearing aid services to our local athletes to ensure they are hearing their best, thus performing their best. She hopes to offer once a month services starting in September with the help of our current doctoral externs, Ashley, Megan and Camilla. In addition to in-office services, with the help of the Healthy Communities Outreach Manger, Dr. Schenk is hoping to schedule screenings in local Adult Day Training centers. Dr. Schenk is passionate about this population and hopes to provide services to as many individuals as she can.

Special Olympics is a family affair as well, Dr. Schenk’s youngest son, who wears Oticon Medical Ponto Pro bone-anchored hearing aids, is currently a Unified Partner with Special Olympics-Citrus County for swimming, meaning he swims on a relay team with two SO athletes and one other Unified Partner. His relay team recently won first place in the Citrus-Hernando swim meet which means they will move on to Area Games in Tampa, August 10, 2019. If they do well at Area Games, they may have an opportunity to swim in the SO state competition in October. Dr. Schenk’s husband and oldest son also serve as volunteers both locally and at state competitions.

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