A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Special Olympics MedFest provides valuable health services in ‘fun’ environment to keep patients at ease

By Tammy L. Lane
Special to KyForward

Special Olympics MedFest offers a chance to check up on students’ health in an informal, sociable setting where volunteers trade their white coats for polo shirts to help put the young patients at ease. “We do medical screenings in a fun way. It’s a field trip carved out to meet their needs,” said Carey Creech-Galloway, a Special Education elementary resource specialist in Fayette County Public Schools. “This is more of a friendly atmosphere than going to the doctor’s office,” added Lorraine Thomas, a secondary resource specialist.

About 130 students from 31 schools participated in the Oct. 19 half-day event, which was set up in a former retail mall space. Rotating mostly by school group, they first had their height and weight recorded, and then moved on for an initial vision check. Next came the vitals stop, where professionals monitored each child’s blood pressure, temperature, and pulse before they stepped behind a privacy curtain for a complete physical, including cardiovascular, abdominal, and orthopedic evaluations.

MedFest hosted these free sports exams for Special Olympics Kentucky (SOKY) as well as Special Smiles dental screenings, Opening Eyes vision screenings, and Healthy Hearing screenings. (The sports physical qualifies a student with intellectual disabilities to compete in Special Olympics activities, though participation is not required to attend MedFest.) Volunteers in the medical profession, who came mostly from the Louisville area, provided all the services. The WHAS Crusade for Children, Delta Dental, the Good Samaritan Foundation, and St. Elizabeth Healthcare also supported MedFest 2017.

In addition to the health screenings, the activity booths included board games, corn hole, and health/wellness/fitness games and resources. Meanwhile outside, several firefighters, police officers, and other first responders showed off their work vehicles – from a helicopter to horses. The students also enjoyed DJ tunes and reconnected with friends from other schools during lunch.

Since 2005, Fayette County’s Special Education Department has partnered every other year with SOKY to host MedFest, and this fall featured a new location in Southland Christian Church’s Richmond Road campus. Also new this year, students who plan to compete in Unified Sports track or bowling through a partnership with the Kentucky High School Athletic Association could get their required KHSAA physical completed.

“Every year it gets stronger and better,” said Kim Satterwhite, SOKY’s senior director of Field & Athlete Services. “The relationship (with FCPS) is phenomenal.”

Tammy L. Lane is website editor for Fayette County Public Schools

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