Champions for Inclusive Health Stakeholder Coalition – Striving for Health Equity through Collective Action
Not too long ago, Special Olympics BC received a grant from our international body to conduct basic health screenings for athletes in our programs. As an organization that traditionally focused on sports and physical activity, we weren’t quite sure why we had been chosen for the task. After all, we had free health care in BC, didn’t we? Regardless of our hesitations, we conducted the first round of screenings and it soon became clear why these screenings were important – the health results collected from athletes were comparable or worse than the results Special Olympics had collected in some of the world’s least-developed countries. How could that be?
Shocked by our findings, we embarked on a literature review to learn as much as possible about the health outcomes experienced by people with intellectual disabilities in our communities. Once again, what we found was appalling. In every discipline of health for which we found applicable research, from oral health and primary care access to physical activity and nutrition, people with intellectual disabilities experienced significant disparities compared to the general population.
Recognizing that Special Olympics alone couldn’t generate the massive changes needed to achieve health equity, we set out to engage a broad spectrum of stakeholders with whom we hoped to collaborate. After a lengthy series of discussions, conferences and planning meetings, the Champions for Inclusive Health Stakeholder Coalition was born in January, 2019. Comprised of six Working Groups, the Coalition seeks to eliminate the health disparities faced by individuals with intellectual disabilities in BC through collective action, and to encourage, inform and inspire efforts elsewhere.
The list of agencies and stakeholders involved in this important work is long and influential in this field, including government agencies, health authorities, self-advocates, non-governmental organizations, school boards, parks and recreation, municipal governments, research institutions and practitioners. We are grateful to everyone who is giving their time to change the game for individuals with intellectual disabilities.
More partners are encouraged to get involved in this significant change-making work. If you are active in health and passionate about helping people with intellectual disabilities, please contact Scott Howe, Director of the Champions for Inclusive Health Stakeholder Coalition, at firstname.lastname@example.org. If one of your service providers is outstanding and really committed to ensuring quality care for individuals with intellectual disabilities, please share this info and encourage them to get involved. If you need ideas on how to support individuals with intellectual disabilities stay active at this time, find resources on our website (https://www.specialolympics.ca/british-columbia/staying-healthy-home).
Initiated by Special Olympics BC