UNMC continues partnership with Special Olympics

Students and faculty from the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing Kearney Division and UNMC College of Allied Health Professions in Kearney are offering free sports screenings for new and returning athletes who plan to compete in the Special Olympics.

The West Central MedFest event is open to athletes from the Kearney, Grand Island and Hastings areas who plan to compete in Special Olympics events. The health screenings allow athletes to be eligible for three years of competition in the 19 sports offered by Special Olympics Nebraska. Competitions are held throughout the state, including both regional and state events. Central City will host the State Equestrian competition Sept. 11, and Kearney will host a unified bowling competition at Big Apple Fun Center on Oct. 8.

See SONE’s calendar of events

The pre-competition screenings will take place Sept. 10, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Health Science Education Complex on the University of Nebraska at Kearney campus, 2402 University Drive. The building is equipped with exam rooms used in student education for UNMC health science programs.

Stephanie Sorensen, director of health and community service programs for Special Olympics Nebraska, said the screenings themselves have become a fun event people look forward to each year.

“We truly value our relationship with UNMC College of Nursing and UNMC College of Allied Health Professions in Kearney,” Sorensen said. “Offering these free sports physicals breaks barriers of access and promotes inclusion as well as awareness of the intellectual and developmental disability community among health profession students who may not have worked closely with people with IDD until this event.”

An interdisciplinary team of occupational therapy, physical therapy, nursing and physician assistant students and faculty will be providing head-to-toe assessments, which will include vision and hearing screenings, vital signs, physical examination, quality-of-life screenings and education on issues such as healthy eating and stretching before activities.

This year is the fifth time UNMC and Special Olympics Nebraska have teamed for the pre-event screenings.

“This is an opportunity that serves the community while allowing UNMC health sciences students to grow their knowledge,” said Mary Girard, an undergraduate nursing instructor at the UNMC College of Nursing Kearney Division. “These athletes may have limited access to care. These free screenings not only enable them to compete, they can identify potential concerns or high-risk conditions. In such cases, we refer the Special Olympics athletes to local providers for follow-up care.”

Pre-registration is encouraged. Athletes can pre-register here

Athletes also may be able to sign up on the day of the event if there still are appointments available. For more information, contact Stephanie Sorensen via email  or by calling 402-331-5545, ext. 22.