Community-Building Activities and Donations

Barnabas Health Teams Up with Special Olympics

Colleen Ciecura

Barnabas Health teamed up with the Special Olympics to sponsor the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games, a national event held every four years that helps individuals with intellectual disabilities develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy and share skills and friendships.

Barnabas Health provided hospitality centers, welcome bags for families, and hosted various special events for 3,500 Special Olympics athletes and their families, and more than 1,200 Barnabas Health staff volunteered for the Games.

In addition, Barnabas Health supported Special Olympics’ first-ever Healthy Young Athletes program, designed to assist families of future Special Olympics athletes (ages 2-7) meet the challenges they face in identifying their child’s medical needs through free educational programs, medical screenings, and family consultations.

Barnabas Health also provided comprehensive fitness screenings for more than 200 Team New Jersey athletes and worked with them for six months, offering health and nutrition guidance, and this relationship continues today.

“Barnabas Health got me on the right track and inspired me to take control of my health and nutrition,” says Special Olympics golfer and Lakewood resident Colleen Ciecura. “Before, it was tough for me to have a full swing because of my extra weight and I would often lose my balance. It is great knowing that I am able to play my best game because my fitness level has gotten better.”

“An event of this magnitude and significance would not be possible without the support of organizations like Barnabas Health, which is not only providing financial support but has made a commitment to engage its employees to volunteer for the Games and use its network of resources to help redefine how individuals with intellectual disabilities are perceived,” said TJ Nelligan, Chairman and CEO of the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games.

Inspired by the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games partnership, Barnabas Health continues its relationship with Special Olympics New Jersey as both a Premier Partner and Healthy Communities Program Partner. Athletes and parents are also participating in the “Life Is Better Healthy Weight Loss Challenge,” a special program provided by Barnabas Health that engages participants to exercise and eat healthier in order to achieve a more optimal weight.

Barnabas Health’s experience with the Special Olympics and the 2014 USA Games also led to the development of the Special Needs Ambassador Program (SNAP) at Saint Barnabas Medical Center. This pilot program equips staff with the training on how best to deliver health care to those on the spectrum of developmental disorders along with strategies to assist individuals and their families throughout their child’s hospital stay based on an individualized plan.

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