DHS Awards $191K to SOWI Inclusive Health

July 31, 2023 Blog, Press

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) has awarded Special Olympics Wisconsin (SOWI) $191,000 to expand its Inclusive Health program. This grant is part of a statewide effort intended to improve Medicaid home and community-based services that help older adults and people who have disabilities. A total of $12.75 million is being awarded to 91 organizations statewide during this round of funding.

SOWI’s awarded project will raise awareness around the issue of health disparities facing people with ID, foster development focused on delivering care to people with ID, and ultimately create communities where Special Olympics athletes have the same access to health and wellness resources and can attain the same level of good health as others.

The program is also changing the way health systems interact with individuals with ID. New and dedicated SOWI personnel will manage and coordinate the program, creating teams of staff, volunteers, Health Messengers, and mentors local organizations, health care providers and medical college students. These teams of health care professionals and volunteers receive free training on the specific needs of individuals with ID, allowing them to return to their practices and classrooms with increased knowledge of and compassion for these patients.

“The Inclusive Health program truly changes the lives of our athletes,” SOWI President & CEO Chad Hershner said. “Many people with ID have higher prevalence of health conditions, earlier onset of chronic disease, diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular disease and asthma, and die 20 years earlier than the general population. These deaths are not often conditions biologically associated with ID, but because of inadequate access to good healthcare, stigma, underprepared healthcare workers, and a lack of policies or systems in place that protect the health rights of individuals with ID.

“Through the Inclusive Health program, complemented by health education and lifestyle coaching, Special Olympics Wisconsin is actively helping combat these barriers to basic health initiatives and prolonging the quality of life for individuals with ID.”

The grant funding was made possible by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). To learn more about this opportunity and other funded projects, visit the DHS website. Questions about these awards or ARPA funding can be sent to the DHS media team at DHSMedia@dhs.wisconsin.gov.


Subscribe to Inspire!

Join our mailing list to receive regular updates!