Special Olympics athletes are healthy athletes in Cayman

Cayman Islands Special Olympics athletes gathered at the Lighthouse School on Saturday for the annual Healthy Athletes and Eunice Kennedy Shriver Day family event. 

Sixty athletes received free health screenings at the event, which also recognizes Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the founder of Special Olympics. 

“The health and well-being of our athletes is critical to their training and ability to do well in their athletic sphere,” said Cayman Islands Special Olympics Chairman Nick Freeland. 

This year’s health screenings focused on dental health and general health. In addition to dental health screening booths, athletes visited booths where volunteer doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals discussed health issues such as nutrition and hygiene. 

The Cayman Islands Cancer Society also had booths at the event where athletes could learn about maintaining healthy skin and healthy lungs. Athletes were taught about the importance of wearing sunscreen, and what smoking can do to their bodies. 

Fiduciary Services company Elian provided bags to each athlete containing sunscreen, SPF lip balm, and a special UV bracelet that turns purple when a person has had too much exposure to the sun. 

Teams of volunteers from the Cancer Society, Elian, EY, Red Sail Sports and Rotaract helped the athletes visit every booth. Each volunteer was matched with an athlete and acted as a chaperone for the athlete for the day. 

“The support from the community is so strong, were able to develop very strong programs,” Mr. Freeland said. “This is one of them.” 

The Special Healthy Athletes program is a global initiative of the Special Olympics, which aims to ensure that people with intellectual disabilities have some sort of health screening, because worldwide, people with such disabilities typically receive substandard or no healthcare. 

Locally, the program helps ensure that Cayman’s Special Olympians are healthy year-round. 

“Cayman Islands is a year-round training program, so when you think about it, they’re physically active in their sports year round,” said Special Olympics Cayman Island Board Member Vanessa Hansen Allott. “So making sure they’re in optimal health is good for them and only fair for them, when any other athlete who is training [makes] sure that they take care of their health. 

“It’s a great day for them and it’s also an important part of their training,” she added. 

Special Olympics athlete Chalice Smith with her chaperone Clement Lai. – Photo: Kelsey Jukam
Special Olympics athlete Chalice Smith with her chaperone Clement Lai. – Photo: Kelsey Jukam