In November of 2018, Special Olympics Kentucky (SOKY) and the University of Kentucky’s Human Development Institute (HDI) announced a new partnership. Special Olympics Kentucky provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes and the community. HDI is Kentucky’s University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities which focuses on education, research and service. They work on improving lifelong opportunities and services for individuals with disabilities, their families, and the community. In an effort of inclusion, the two organizations are teaming up to improve the health of those with and without disabilities across Kentucky.
SOKY employees Hunter Brislin and Nick McKenzie were trained on the Health Partners curriculum in June 2017 at the statewide train-the-trainer session offered by Megan Jaspersen and Morgan Turner of the Health and Wellness Initiative at HDI. Through this partnership and as an initiative of SOKY’s Fitness and Healthy Lifestyles Program, SOKY will now offer Health Partners workshops across the state for athletes along with their families, coaches, and community members. The Health Partners program is a holistic health and wellness program in which individuals work together with a partner to learn about physical, social, emotional, and spiritual health through meaningful activities using the Healthy Lifestyles curriculum. Based on what is important to the participant, they create personal health goals. Over several sessions, participants will receive the tools and information needed to be successful in reaching these goals.
“It is our hope that by partnering with SOKY, the Health Partners program will reach even more Kentuckians who have a true desire to improve their health using social support and goal setting,” Jaspersen said. “This is an incredible opportunity for program sustainability and expansion, and we are thrilled to be a part of it.”