People at Mid-America Sports Complex for the 2018 Special Olympics Kentucky State Basketball Tournament were on hand for the birth of a new SOKY Program – the Strong Minds Healthy Athletes Initiative. Strong Minds is an interactive learning activity
focused on developing adaptive coping skills. Competition provides a natural opportunity to develop active strategies for maintaining emotional wellness under stress, such as: thinking positive thoughts, releasing stress and connecting with others. Athletes learn about and try a few different active coping strategies as they move through the stations. Before exiting, athletes identify the strategies they like best and volunteers provide them with visual reminders to use these tools in competition and in daily life.
Like its Healthy Athletes predecessors, Strong Minds seeks to resolve a pressing health care need for people with intellectual disabilities. In pilot programs, nearly 75% of participants were shown to have few or no coping mechanisms to help deal with stress, a situation that causes many other issues, including depression. The Strong Minds program is designed to help athletes to identify ways to manage stress during competition and in daily life; provide resources on good coping for athletes, coaches & caregivers; start conversations about stress, coping and emotional wellness; provide training and experiences for health student and professionals to discuss emotional well-being with individuals with Intellectual Disabilities.
Strong Minds debuted at the State Basketball Tournament with the help of Steve Forman of Lee Specialty Clinic and Elaine Eisenbaum of the Human Development Institute at the University of Kentucky. Forman is also the Regional Clinical Director for Strong Minds for Special Olympics International. Athlets who missed out on the program will be able to take advantage of Strong Minds activities at the Healthy Athletes Wellness Village in Olympic Town at the 2018 State Summer Games.
Healthy Athletes programs provide free medical screenings for Special Olympics athletes. All screenings are done by trained medical professionals who are volunteering their time. Special Olympics Kentucky offers screenings and instructions in seven initiatives, including Opening Eyes vision screenings; Special Smiles dental screenings; Healthy Hearing Screenings; Fit Feet screenings; FUNFitness flexibility and physical therapy screenings and Health Promotion which provides healthy lifestyles diet and exercise instruction, as well as now Sound Minds. In 2016 Special Olympics Kentucky provided more than 1,100 free screenings and 200 referrals for further care. Most screenings are performed at Summer Games and at annual MedFest events.
For more information about Strong Minds and other Special Olympics Kentucky Healthy Athletes Programs, contact Kim Satterwhite, Senior Director of Field and Athlete Services, at 502-695-8222 or email@example.com.