April 15th, 2015 by John Dickerson
I recently had the chance to spend a wonderful hour with Mike Furnish, CEO of Special Olympics Indiana. It was a great opportunity to get caught up on the amazing things they are doing, including their leadership on health and wellness issues for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. By taking the time to screen athletes at Special Olympics events, some powerful data is being developed both here and across the country that is leading to action to improve the lives of people with I/DD.
Would it surprise you to learn that over half the athletes screened have shoes that are more than two sizes too big or two sizes too small. The podiatrists who did the screening were clear – people’s feet are hurting. Now, Special Olympics Indiana is working on new ways to get people shoes that fit.
Four out of ten athletes needed glasses and did not have them. This year, Special Olympics Indiana will not only have optometrists available at the 46th annual Summer Games, June 12 – 14, to screen people, but will also have an eyeglass distributor onsite to make the glasses and fit the frames before the athletes head home – all for free.
In addition, athletes will be able to receive hearing screenings, and work is taking place to assist those who need hearing aids to get them – also at no cost. All this on top of the dental and health screenings that take place every year. It truly is amazing.
The Arc is proud to again be sponsoring the Family Tent at the Summer Games. We will be taking a related tack and talking with families, athletes, and direct support professionals attending the games about how they can access a healthier lifestyle for their son or daughter as well as themselves.
Data shows that a person with a disability has a higher chance of dying early due to preventable causes. How many of our friends will we lose early because they did not have access to basic health screenings? Special Olympics Indiana is showing us the way and we are blessed to have them here.
We are also extraordinarily lucky that Tim Shriver, Special Olympics Chairman, will be the opening keynote speaker at the 2015 national convention of The Arc, taking place October 3-5 in Indianapolis. In 2014, Tim Shriver released a memoir, “Fully Alive: Discovering What Matters Most,” that offers a personal look into his life and the people who inspired and taught him. He will share his family’s story and how it inspired him to make a difference.
We look forward to seeing you and your family at the Special Olympics Indiana Summer Games and at the national convention of The Arc!
John Dickerson is executive director of The Arc of Indiana