SOKY Training First Health Messengers

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SOKY Training First Health Messengers

Athletes Learning How to Help Share Information About Healthy Lifestyles

Our first class of Health Messengers (l-r): Morgan Turner, Katie Williams, Hayden Redmon, Jennifer Hamilton, Ryan Barts, DesaRae Nickell and Dallas Derringer.

Even as most of our athletes are preparing for the upcoming State Summer Games, one group of Special Olympics Kentucky athletes continues to prepare for another goal: spreading the message of healthy choices and healthy lifestyles to their fellow athletes. The group of seven athletes from across Kentucky are the first class of Special Olympics Kentucky Health Messengers.

Health Messengers are charged with educating their fellow athletes and their communities about how better health decisions can improve their lives, advocating for better health and providing solid role modeling of healthy life choices. Their work covers everything from information on healthy diets to helping others overcome anxiety about visiting a doctor or dentist.

Kentucky’s seven Health Messengers in training – Ryan Barts, Georgetown; Dallas Derringer, Louisville; Jennifer Hamilton, Owensboro; DeaRae Nickell, Morehead; Hayden Redmon, Louisville; Morgan Turner, Lexington; and Katie Williams, Central City – know how important their new role can be.

“Health Messengers is important because I get to help athletes stay more in shape by eating healthy foods and exercising more,” Redmon said.

“I like being a Health Messenger because I get to help other people out about their health and get them on the right track on life and help them eat the right foods that are good for the body,” Hamilton added.

Williams said, “I’m excited to be part of the Health Messengers program because it makes me feel like I can advocate for myself and others.” She also said that being in the training program has also helped her make better health choices. “Becoming a Health Messenger is important because I am learning things about health that I didn’t know.”

Special Olympics Kentucky Healthy Communities Manager Kelli Firquin has been impressed by the group’s commitment.

“They have worked hard to prepare for their new leadership role,” she said. “Each one is passionate about their health and inspiring their fellow athletes to confidently take control of their health and fitness. Our health messengers are committed to inspiring change within their sports teams, communities and the world of health care at large. They believe strongly that every individual is deserving of quality health care and the chance to succeed on the playing field through achieving a healthy lifestyle.”

The Health Messengers program is another extension of our Healthy Athletes initiative. Healthy Athletes began in 1997 in response to the difficulties people with intellectual disabilities often had – and in many cases continue to have – accessing quality health services and health care. Healthy Athletes continues to grow from its origins of providing health screenings and some basic health services as part of Special Olympics events like MedFest and the State Summer Games into a comprehensive program to help Special Olympics athletes live healthier lives.

For more information about Health Messengers or other Special Olympics Kentucky Healthy Athletes programs, contact Kim Satterwhite at [email protected] or Kelli Firquin at [email protected]. Both can also be reached at 502-695-8222.

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