Meet a Health Messenger: Kate Yonushewski

Meet a Health Messenger: Kate Yonushewski

Meet a Health Messenger: Kate Yonushewski

Katy Y at school

By Britten Blount | Inclusive Health Intern

Kate Yonushewski has been involved with the Special Olympics for over 6 years, is a third year Fitness Captain, and has been a Health Messenger for almost a year now. She is an avid participant in many sports that the Special Olympics offers, including swimming (her favorite), basketball, volleyball, softball, and flag football. I was able to talk with Kate and learn more about her role as a Health Messenger and the responsibilities that accompany the title.

Health Messengers are athletes who are trained to be health and wellness leaders, advocates, role models, and educators within their Special Olympics community. When asked what being a part of Special Olympics Colorado meant to her, Kate replied, “SOCO has been like a family to me. They have been really helpful in helping me reach my fitness goals and get where I need to be health-wise.”

As a Health Messenger, Kate serves as an important resource for her fellow teammates. Some of her responsibilities include leading her teammates in warmups, checking in on the health of her peers, and reaching out to those who may be in need of support. “Personally, I make sure the athletes stay active, get plenty of sleep, are eating healthy, and are okay mentally and physically,” Kate explained. Her selflessness and compassionate personality are hard to miss, as she adds, “I want others to know that I am here to help them if they need it, and I am always someone you can come to if you need someone to talk to.”

When asked what word she felt best describes what being a Health Messenger means to her, Kate quickly responded with: Community. “For me, it’s definitely community oriented,” she expressed. “Not only is it about giving back to my community and to the Special Olympics, but it is also about giving back to the athletes. Being there for them is very important to me since they have always been there for myself.”

Katy Y playing volleyballAthletes dedicate a significant amount of hard work and time to becoming a Health Messenger. Kate spent 3 semesters of Athlete Leadership University, or over a year and a half, working towards her certification. After learning this, her answer to my next question, in which I asked what her favorite memory of being a Health Messenger was, came as no surprise:

“Getting the Health Messenger Certificate was a big thing for me,” she explained. “Finally having all the hard work pay off and being able to go talk to others about what it means to be a Health Messenger is one of the best parts for sure.”

At the end of our conversation, I asked Kate if she had any closing advice for others who may want to become Health Messengers. She replied, “Make sure to take care of yourself, too! Before you can take care of your teammates, you have to take care of yourself, both mentally and physically.”

Thanks to Health Messengers like Kate, individuals with intellectual disabilities within the Special Olympics and the community at large are being supported and advocated for. With their help and support, more health education and resources to pursue a healthy lifestyle are available for their teams, friends, and community.

Interested in becoming a Health Messenger like Kate? Register for Athlete Leadership University and select Health and Fitness track!

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