Special Olympics British Columbia British Columbia

Healthy Athletes screenings make a ‘huge impact’

21 November 2017

Healthy Athletes is wonderful,” Special Olympics BC – Nanaimo athlete Emily Beauchamp says passionately. “It’s helped me in more ways than I can count.”

Beauchamp participated in her first Healthy Athletes screenings a number of years ago as a Special Olympics athlete in Ontario, and they helped her achieve life-changing revelations. The Healthy Hearing screenings showed that she had severe hearing loss, and the Fit Feet screenings helped her realize that she had hip dysplasia that was affecting her gait.

“That was another big ‘aha’ moment,” Beauchamp said.

Beauchamp and her supportive, attentive mother had been on top of her health concerns, but had chalked up her hearing issues to other factors such as being a typical young person not listening, Beauchamp laughs, and as for her issues with her gait, she just thought that was how she walked. The Special Olympics Healthy Athletes screenings led Beauchamp to get connected with the followup care she needed, and she got hearing aids and orthotics to help her manage.

When she subsequently participated in Opening Eyes screenings, that helped her identify she had gone legally blind.

“It was the first time someone actually believed me,” Beauchamp said. “It made a huge impact on my life.” She and her mother had struggled to identify the issues with her general practitioner. The finding “was a shock,” Beauchamp said, adding, “It was a great relief, especially for my mom.” The subsequent diagnosis and support she connected with made a big difference – she had been legally blind for five years in school but without a diagnosis of the issue, she could not access available support.

Even though Healthy Athletes screenings have already identified a great deal, Beauchamp continues to find value in attending, particularly for the Special Smiles, Health Promotion, and Strong Minds screenings. She goes whenever the opportunity arises, and was one of 40 individuals with intellectual disabilities who participated in the November 2017 SOBC Healthy Athletes Screening Day in Nanaimo, including athletes from SOBC – Campbell River, Cowichan Valley, Nanaimo, Oceanside, and Victoria.

“I encourage [others] to go. … I am very fond of dragging people with me!” Beauchamp says cheerfully.

The Nanaimo Healthy Athletes event benefitted from incredible support from many volunteers. Dr. Joelle Greenaway, one of the B.C. Opening Eyes Clinical Directors, is an amazing health champion in her community, and she engaged many local volunteers. A wonderful class of Vancouver Island University dental hygienists and assistants, organized by Professor Elizabeth Cavin, did a wonderful job running the Special Smiles screenings and even pitched in to help with other disciplines.

Pictured at right: all smiles in the Special Smiles screenings in Nanaimo!

The event also benefitted from amazing support from UBC Faculty of Medicine audiology students, who made the time to come over from Vancouver to assist, and from the efforts of Nanaimo nurse Bryce (Gooch) Grovum, who volunteered with the Health Promotion screenings and provided great assistance to families on where to go next and how to connect with further followup care.

In addition, SOBC – Nanaimo volunteers generously gave additional time to help make the event possible, including coach Angela Behn who played a vital part by running registration.

Beauchamp said the Health Promotion and Strong Minds screenings are her favourite Healthy Athletes stations today, because she finds that “there’s always something new and interesting going on,” as well as many free giveaways to help her health.

“I always find new tips there and things to try,” she said.

She also appreciates the Special Smiles screenings because they provide important dental cleanings and prompts to visit the dentist for further care when needed. Beauchamp said she finds it difficult – “I am terrified of the dentist,” she said – but Special Smiles volunteers help make the screenings and cleanings approachable, and they help give her the impetus she needs to get the support she requires to complete visits to the dentist.

The volunteers “are young and my age and really nice,” she said.

Globally, Special Olympics Health is made possible by the vision and support of the Golisano Foundation, and partners such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Lions Clubs International.

Here in B.C., Special Olympics BC’s health work is made possible by the generous support of Westminster Savings and the Government of British Columbia, as well as a Golisano Foundation Special Olympics Healthy Communities grant and the ongoing support of our provincial partners and fundraising events.

After the event, participants will receive followup cards in the mail that can help connect them with any necessary appointments and services. 

The next SOBC Healthy Athletes Screening Day is being planned for February 24, 2018, in the Lower Mainland. Spring events in Regions 1 and 7 events are also being considered, working toward the possibility of Castlegar April 14 and Prince Rupert May 12/13.

To learn more about Special Olympics BC’s health programs and Healthy Athletes events, please contact SOBC’s Ashten Black by email or by phone at 604-737-3081 / 1-888-854-2276 toll-free.

Enjoying Special Olympics Healthy Athletes Opening Eyes screenings in Nanaimo.

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Upcoming health events

Lower Mainland February 24
Castlegar April 14
Prince Rupert May 12/13

Healthy Athletes stories

2017 screening events:
Fort St. John
Nanaimo

2016 screening events:
North Vancouver
Prince George
Burnaby
Cranbrook

2015 screening events:
Vancouver and Kamloops
Nanaimo

2014 screening events:
Vancouver
Kelowna
SOC 2014 Summer Games

2013 screening events:
Vancouver
2013 SOBC Summer Games
Victoria and Cranbrook

2012 screening events:
Vancouver
Kelowna
Parksville
Prince George

2011 Healthy Athletes Wellness Day

Province of B.C. supports Healthy Athletes

Athlete Health Resources

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Testimonials

"Working with Special Olympics has been an eye-opener. The athletes have such a positive attitude and have overcome so many obstacles it is a great reminder that anything is possible. The athletes are so appreciative it makes all the effort and planning worthwhile!"
-Nazima, health professional

“Everyone’s been dedicating their time, and that’s what stood out for me the most. I can’t believe this is happening, all these people putting in their time and effort doing this, this is a lot of work."
-Conrad, SOBC athlete, at the 2012 Healthy Athletes Screening Day

“It is the most wonderful feeling at Provincial Games to see the amazing health practitioners involved in the Special Olympics BC Healthy Athletes program. They take the time to check the eyes of every athlete. If prescription glasses are needed they are given for free, and if not, the athlete gets to pick out a pair of sunglasses. Healthy Athletes is such a great gift to all the participants.”
-
SOBC coach Jim Cormier