Healthy Athletes Program as a chance for a good quality of life for people with intellectual disabilities and their families in the context of health initiatives

Authors: Anna Nadolska, Piotr Bejster

Published online: 26 January 2017

Background: One of the consequences of improper process of socialization is ineffective health education and different structure of behaviours associated with the person’s caring for his or her own health. The difficult socio-economic status of families with children with intellectual disabilities may impair meeting the needs of family members (especially children) concerning health. Up to a third of the cases of poorer health status in people with intellectual disabilities may result from lower socioeconomic position (Emerson and Hatton, 2007). Educational failure, typical of families of children and young people with intellectual disabilities (especially mild disablities), can result in the children not learning appropriate behavioural patterns which are important to human health. If such patterns are not acquired, health can be deteriorating at an increasing pace.
The health status of people with intellectual disabilities is worse than the health in the general population (Allerton, Welch, Emerson, 2011; Tample et al., 2006). The most serious consequence of the poorer health of people with intellectual disabilities is higher mortality rate (Krahn et al, 2006). The average life expectancy of people with intellectual disabilities is 66 years (excluding people with Down syndrome, whose life expectancy is even shorter), being by 10 years shorter than that of people with normal intellectual capacity.
Bearing in mind that the access to the highest standards of health care for all people with disabilities represents the right that was stipulated on 13 December 2006 by the UN’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Special Olympics Poland took the initiative leading to beneficial changes in quality of life of athletes and their families in the context of health and promotion of appropriate health behaviours through the implementation of the Health Programs, which include the two related projects: Healthy Athletes and Healthy Special Olympics Community.