DENVER, CO (June 2022) — Special Olympics Colorado (SOCO) is partnering with Wayfinder, a health tech startup that enables SOCO to connect its athletes with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) to quality healthcare and social services in the community.
People with I/DD face significant challenges accessing culturally competent services that promote health and well-being. Administrative complexities, inaccessible clinics, a lack of trained providers, and long waitlists are just a few barriers that limit access to timely care. As a result, people with I/DD experience pronounced health disparities and decreased life expectancy.
Special Olympics Colorado offers Healthy Athletes screenings through their Inclusive Health program to help improve the physical and social-emotional well-being of people with I/DD. "Inclusive Health means having access to the same healthcare that people without disabilities receive," says Jimmy Kropp, a SOCO athlete. "While my peers and I may be better off than we were a few decades ago, people with I/DD still face barriers when seeking medical treatment. I have personally seen and experienced doctors who look at me as a disability and not as a person."
"Our partnership with Wayfinder is focused on changing the healthcare system for athletes like James," says Jena Twete, SOCO's Senior Inclusive Health Manager. "This partnership allows us to take our Healthy Athletes screenings further by providing athletes with referrals to in-network, disability competent care close to their homes."
Wayfinder uses its care coordination platform and social care network to make personalized referrals for SOCO athletes. Wayfinder's network currently comprises 550+ disability-specific care providers and programs in Colorado across 58 specialties in health, education, employment, housing, and more. SOCO athletes and their families also get free access to Wayfinder's care directory, fact-checked resources, and peer support groups.
The new partnership will also help SOCO measure the impact of its inclusive health programming, which performs over 1,000 screenings annually with the help of trained healthcare volunteers. Wayfinder will follow up directly with athletes six weeks after making referrals to close the loop on care. SOCO will then share this referral data with Special Olympics International to apply for future program funding and improve the organization's dataset on I/DD health.
Special Olympics Colorado provides year-round training and competition in 21 sports for more than 15,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities living in Colorado. With the support of more than 9,000 volunteers and the generosity of Colorado citizens, corporations, and local businesses, Special Olympics Colorado is able to offer more than 100 events annually to individuals ages two and up (the oldest athlete is 78 years old). Participation with other athletes, Unified partners (typically developing peers), coaches, sponsors, and volunteers builds confidence and creates opportunities to participate as productive and respected members of society by increasing public awareness of the athletes' abilities. For more information, visit SpecialOlympicsCO.org.
Wayfinder is a digital health startup connecting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to health and social services. Thousands of Coloradans use Wayfinder's care directory to discover high-quality, in-network providers across 58 specialties in healthcare, education, employment, adaptive recreation, and more. Individuals can also join peer support groups and read articles written by experts. Disability service providers utilize Wayfinder's suite of tools to reach new clients, hire clinicians, coordinate care, and grow their businesses. For more information, visit JoinWayfinder.com.