The following is written by Special Olympics Missouri athlete Allen Tobin, who recently traveled to Washington D.C. with SOMO staff member Carol Griffin to attend a Healthy Athletes leadership conference. Healthy Athletes provides athletes with free health screenings in six different disciplines: Fit Feet, Special Smiles, Fun Fitness, Healthy Hearing, Health Promotion and Opening Eyes.
I had the honor and the privilege to get to go with Carol Griffin, the Healthy Athlete Coordinator, to Washington D.C. for a conference in training to be an Athlete Leader in the Healthy Athlete program. I met Carol at the airport on December 6th to fly out to Washington D.C. We went to our hotel to check in for the conference and training. We got to see see and talk to Heather Hammer, the Healthy Athlete Director for Special Olympics International & Kristen Srour, who works for Healthy Athletes Special Olympics International.
On Monday evening the 12 athlete leaders and mentors had training to be a Healthy Athlete Leader. After our meeting and training we got taken out to dinner at a Greek restaurant which was a lot of fun. I got to try some new foods that I’ve never had, after dinner we came back to the motel and relax and get to know each other.
On Tuesday the conference started. We had breakfast and got to talk to the other people that came in for the conference. The meeting started at 9 and then we had a breakout session at 9:30 to 10:45. Four athletes got to do the breakout session. We gave speeches and answered questions. Then we took a break and had sessions and meetings all day. We had a healthy lunch with a few snacks and fruits and yogurt. We had different meetings all week with topics from ranging from new physical fitness programs, healthy diets and different things like that.
I enjoyed meeting other athletes from all over the country and even Canada and the District of Columbia. On Thursday night we had free time for dinner and got to go on a on a night tour of the different monuments in Washington DC. I had a lot of fun going to see things like the Capital, White House, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, Arlington Cemetery, and Martin Luther King Monument. On Friday we had our final day of conferences, meetings and training sessions. We flew back back home on December the 9th.
I learned many important things at the conference. Statistics show that compared to people without Intellectual Disabilities (ID), people with ID:
*died 16 years earlier on average
*are at more unhealthy weight
*are more overweight or obese
*tend to have a higher blood pressure
It is important to learn how to be a Healthy Athlete because the healthier I am the more energy I have and the better I can be at my sports.
Special Olympics Missouri Athlete
Healthy Athlete Leader