Articles in Health & Fitness

Special Smiles Screening Helps Beau Receive Urgent Dental Work

Meet Beau Vinton, a Special Olympics Iowa athlete who is active in many sports. Some of Beau’s favorite sports include bowling, track and field, basketball, and Unified golf.

This past spring Beau qualified to compete at the Special Olympics Iowa Summer Games in the 4×100 run relay and mini javelin events. When he wasn’t competing at the Summer Games, Beau decided to do the Healthy Athlete screenings that are offered to all athletes during the games. One of the Healthy Athletes disciplines is Special Smiles which gives athletes a dental screening. During Beau’s Special Smiles screening, it was discovered that Beau was in urgent need of some dental work. Through Special Olympics Iowa’s partner agencies, Beau was able to receive the dental work he urgently needed.

“We are very grateful for the Special Olympics Special Smiles program and appreciate the quick guidance on how to get Beau’s dental work completed. Since his Special Smiles screening at Summer games, Beau has been able to have one tooth extraction as well as a full dental exam. He is now scheduled to also receive a filling,” shared April Vinton, Beau’s mother.

Each year thousands of athletes are given the opportunity to receive Healthy Athletes screenings – Special Smiles, Opening Eyes, FUNfitness, Fit Feet, Health Promotion, Healthy Hearing, and MedFest. Beau is one of the many athletes who were able to receive the urgent care they needed because they did a Healthy Athletes screening.

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Special Olympics Health Messenger – Lisa Spencer

The only way to end exclusion is to have people who face these challenges daily help create the solution. People with intellectual disabilities are guiding us toward solutions in our health work. The Special Olympics Health Messenger program was born out of this notion of participation. In order to create more effective public health programs, improve health systems, and engage communities to support the health of people with intellectual disabilities, people with intellectual disabilities must have leadership roles in the health system.

Special Olympics Health Messengers are athletes who are trained to serve as health and wellness leaders, educators, advocates, and role models within their Special Olympics communities, as well as their community at large. They are leading their teams, families, friends, and communities to pursue healthy lifestyles, and are advocating for healthcare providers and governments to adopt inclusive policies around health, wellness services, education, and resources for people with intellectual disabilities.

Since the pandemic began, Special Olympics North America has completed three virtual Health Messenger trainings. Special Olympics Iowa’s very own Lisa Spencer was chosen to be a member of the third cohort of virtual Health Messenger trainees. Read more about Lisa’s story below:

Two years ago, Lisa Spencer had things she wanted to do, like feeling good while showing horses, but her weight would get in the way. Lisa knew something had to change, so she began going to the gym and focusing on nutrition and water intake. Since Lisa started her weight loss journey, she has lost over 140 pounds and gained a passion for health.

Lisa’s newfound passion for health and fitness led her to apply and become a Special Olympics Health Messenger. She hopes to use her weight loss journey to inspire others. Lisa’s goal as a Health Messenger is to help fellow athletes and her community lead a healthy and happy lifestyle. She has already begun working towards her goal by speaking with different groups about her health journey and what goes into leading a healthy and happy lifestyle.

Lisa wants everyone to remember: “It’s never too late to start living a healthy life.”

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