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Health > Healthy Athletes Programme (HAPs)

Healthy Athlete Programme (HAPs)

Healthy Athletes Programme

The Special Olympics Healthy Athletes initiative offers basic health screenings and services to athletes. These services are delivered by qualified medical staff in a fun and welcoming way. Referral to specialised practitioners for further assessment and care is made as required.

This screening programme is offered at World Games, National Games and some regional events.

Healthy Athlete Information Sheet

View this TV3 footage from our National Summer Games based in Dunedin in 2013. This talks about the vision screening provided to athletes through the SOLCIOE (Special Olympics Lions Club International Opening Eyes) programme. If you have any enquiries about this programme please write to openingeyes@specialolympics.org.nz


For any enquiries regarding our Healthy Athletes programme please email:-



What do we know about the health of our athletes?

The Healthy Athletes screenings tell us that Special Olympics athletes have significant unmet
health needs. This highlights the need for health education and promotion as well as improved
access for people with intellectual disability to health care services.
Globally, on average, in a team of 10 Special Olympics athletes:
  • 5 have significant problems with flexibility, and 4 with balance, placing them at risk for injuries
  • 3 fail a hearing test
  • 4 need eyeglasses
  • 2 have some kind of eye diseases (e.g. glaucoma)
  • 4 have untreated tooth decay
  • 1 needs an urgent referral to a dentist
  • 2 have low bone density, even though they might look healthy
  • 6 are overweight/obese and at risk for chronic health conditions
To learn more about the health of athletes with an intellectual disability in New Zealand, please see the Athlete Health overview.

Read about our newest clinical directors, here.
  • Fit Feet screens athletes' feet and biomechanics.
  • Healthy Hearing cleans blocked ear canals and tests hearing.
  • Opening Eyes screens athletes' eyes for vision and disease.
  • Special Smiles screens athletes' oral health.
  • Improving the health awareness of our athletes through health promotion
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