Earlier this week, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced a $1 million grant to be provided to Special Olympics Arizona.
A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Special Olympics Arizona, provides services to individuals with intellectual disabilities, including physical activity and competition programs, health screenings, and fitness programs.
The $1 million gift will help SOAZ continue to develop its Inclusive health and wellness programs that are crucial for the more than 21,000 SOAZ athletes statewide, according to a press release.
“With the opening of this new building, Special Olympics Arizona is giving more Arizonans the opportunity to compete in sports, and they’re providing underserved groups with other critical resources that aren’t widely available to them,” Governor Ducey said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new state office and distribution center in Goodyear.
“We are dedicated to helping Special Olympics Arizona in their efforts. I’m excited to announce that we are investing $1 million dollars in the Special Olympics Arizona Healthy Athletes Program to help them expand health services to Arizonans with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”
The health disparity for people with IDD dramatically increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, the release states.
Many have faced increased physical health and mental health difficulties as a result of the pandemic and many health needs have gone unaddressed. Special Olympics Arizona athletes recently reported experiencing increased acute loneliness, anxiety, stress and social isolation.
“Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities have a higher prevalence of adverse health conditions and are more likely to have unidentified and untreated health issues,” said Special Olympics Arizona President and CEO Jamie Heckerman in a prepared statement.
“They also have less access to health care services and health promotion programs, experience greater rates of mental health challenges and bullying, and struggle to live independently. We can’t thank Gov. Ducey and the state of Arizona enough for this generous gift that will provide more Inclusive health programs and assist so many more individuals with IDD to get proper healthcare and treatment to help lead a better quality of life.”
Special Olympics Arizona’s Healthy Athletes Program addresses some of these health care challenges by facilitating free health screenings provided by volunteer clinicians in a variety of disciplines including:
Special Olympics Arizona’s Healthy L.E.A.P --- Lifestyle, education, and Practice --- Program is another proven health program that educates students with and without IDD based on four pillars of health – emotional, physical, nutritional, and social wellness.
Addressing student social and emotional well-being is critical as Arizona comes out of the pandemic. The purpose of Special Olympics Arizona is to empower children and adults with intellectual disabilities to live healthy, fulfilling, and meaningful lives.
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