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  • Donation to Expand Special Olympics Screenings

    The success of the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes program, which includes the physical therapy fitness screening FUNfitness, has led to a $12 million donation to expand Special Olympics' health-related services and launch a new Healthy Communities initiative. The donation, made by United States businessman and philanthropist Tom Golisano, was announced September 23 by former President Bill Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative event in New York City. 

    Healthy Athletes has provided free health screenings and products to athletes for 15 years. In addition to physical therapy screenings the program offers podiatry, better health and well-being, audiology, sports, vision, and dental screenings. The donation will allow FUNfitness to expand its efforts to develop and promote fitness activities at the community level in a multitude of locations around the globe.

    Healthy Communities' goal is to achieve improved health outcomes for people with intellectual disabilities with the ultimate goal of ensuring that all are receiving health services and are able to reach their full potential. It will expand services to more athletes, increase partnerships with local organizations, expand the use of technology, and promote awareness of the health difficulties facing people with intellectual disabilities. The program will be launched in 7 countries (Mexico, Peru, Romania, Malawi, South Africa, Malaysia, and Thailand) and 6 states in the US (Arizona, Florida, Kansas, New Jersey, Wisconsin, and New York). It will build upon and broaden the scope of the current Healthy Athletes program.

    Several APTA members have been instrumental in the success of FUNfitness and the Healthy Athletes program. Donna Bainbridge, PT, EdD, ATC, is global clinical advisor for FUNfitness and Fitness Programming. Jim Gleason, PT, MS, serves as FUNfitness research and education coordinator. Vicki Tilley, PT, GCS, is FUNfitness coordinator of Clinical Services-North America.

    APTA developed FUNFitness, an assessment of flexibility, functional strength, and balance created for athletes participating in the Special Olympics, as an outgrowth of the North Carolina Chapter's successful flexibility screening program created for the 1999 Special Olympics.

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