Special Olympics athletes once more challenged their physical and mental limits across 11 competitive sports, finishing strong with a 288 total medal count. From July 8th to 12th, over a thousand volunteers and staff members on UBC campus assisted athletes in the Special Olympics Canada 2014 Summer Games.
As part of the Opening Eyes vision care program team, I helped provide eye care and eyewear to the athletes. I was stationed at the auto-refractor and dispensing station and worked with bright, positive, and friendly athletes. Some chattered about their sports and some with medals had fun sharing their stories of victory. Nellie Joe Kurta of British Columbia, for example, took home the gold in Golf Final Division, and personally presented to me a signed golf ball and Special Olympics pin. In the end, everyone had something invaluable to take home: eyewear, an insightful health report, and to all a learning experience.
The Opening Eyes vision care program is part of the Special Olympics BC Healthy Athletes Program which provides free health check-ups to athletes with intellectual disabilities. Many of these athletes have difficulties expressing their health concerns, and people with intellectual disability have a 40 percent higher risk of health issues. This program helps athletes to perform their best not only in their athleticism, but also in health and wellness. I look forward to volunteering for this program again.