Permanently improving health care for people with intellectual disabilities – this is the goal of the Healthy Athletes® program, which is also taking place as part of our Games and was ceremoniously opened today in the CityCube of Messe Berlin.
In addition to the various sports competitions, athletes from all over the world can participate in our Healthy Athletes® program during the Special Olympics World Games Berlin 2023, which was opened today by German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, among others.
He found words of praise but also of caution: "The program is exemplary." At the same time, he criticized the worldwide medical undersupply of people with intellectual disabilities. "We owe them more than we give them," Lauterbach said.
During the Special Olympics World Games in Berlin, examinations aree offered in seven health areas throughout the competition period, all of which are popularly visited.
In the area of health promotion, for example, the focus is on health and nutrition counseling. Clinical Director Marion Giesecke from Saxony-Anhalt has 80 doctors, dieticians and trained volunteers at her side on every shift.
"Our focus is on nutrition. We use food dummies and discuss with athletes what healthy nutrition can be," she says.
During Berlin 2023, podiatrist Manfred Berchthold from the Allgäu region is also on duty, examining the feet of our athletes. He has just received a message that an athlete is wearing shoes in size 41, although she should have a 44. "Very often the shoes are either too small or too big," he says.
To better assess the situation, a so-called blueprint is made of the feet on site. In addition, everyone receives a short status report. Both can then be used at home for further treatment.
Information material in seven languages is available to take away at the stations. Speaking of languages. As athletes from 190 countries are taking part in the program, improvisation is sometimes necessary during examinations.
However, it is important to emphasize: It is not only the athletes and delegation members who receive training as part of our health program. Medical professionals can also learn a lot and improve their work with people with disabilities.
More information about the background of the program and the individual disciplines can be found here.