The Importance of Special Olympics Colorado Clinical Directors
Erin Medina and Jena Twete are Special Olympics Colorado staff members who also serve as Clinical Directors for different Healthy Athletes disciplines. As Clinical Directors, they serve our athletes in Strong Minds and Health Promotion, ensuring athletes get the proper care they deserve. Check out their perspective on each discipline below!
My name is Erin Medina and I am the Chief Strategy Officer at Special Olympics Colorado. I oversee our Young Athletes program, Health and Wellness, Coaching, Volunteers, Athlete Leadership, and Family Services. What you may not know about me is that I am also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Throughout my career, I have worked with individuals and families experiencing homelessness, children, youth, and adults with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, and spent extensive time working in the child welfare system. Since joining Special Olympics Colorado, I have enjoyed bringing my experience with mental health to this position as a Strong Minds Clinical Director.
Upon starting my role at Special Olympics Colorado in August 2019, we were offering 7 of the 8 Healthy Athletes disciplines with the final discipline, Strong Minds in the planning phases. The Healthy Athletes program focuses on improving the physical and social-emotional well-being of people with intellectual disabilities by increasing inclusion in health care, wellness, and health systems for Special Olympics athletes and others with intellectual disabilities. Unfortunately, mental and emotional health is often overlooked for individuals with intellectual disabilities.
I quickly learned about the opportunity to be a Strong Minds Clinical Director and serve in that role to continue to build the Strong Minds program in Colorado and make this screening available to more athletes. Strong Minds is an interactive learning activity focused on developing adaptive coping skills including strategies for maintaining emotional wellness under stress, such as: thinking positive thoughts, releasing stress and connecting with others. Ensuring Special Olympics athletes have opportunities to improve both their physical and emotional health is the overarching goal of the Special Olympics Colorado Inclusive Health program and as a Strong Minds Clinical Director, I am thrilled to be a part of this important and life-changing program.
My name is Jena Twete and I am the Senior Inclusive Health Manager here at Special Olympics Colorado (SOCO), I am also one of our Health Promotion Clinical Directors. You may also know me as the previous Fitness and Wellness Manager here at SOCO. I have been with SOCO since 2019 and before taking my new role as the Senior Inclusive Health Manager in 2021, I started to think about venturing into becoming a Health Promotion Clinical Director. This screening was exciting to me and I wanted to be able to help our SOCO health program more. Stepping into my new role just gave me more of a push to do it!
If you don’t know what Health Promotion is or what the screening is about, let me fill you in. According to Special Olympics International, “Health Promotion focuses on healthy living, healthy lifestyle choices, and nation-specific health issues. In addition to health education activities, Health Promotion offers screenings for bone density, blood pressure, and body mass index (BMI). Its goals include encouraging and enhancing healthy behaviors and improving self-efficacy and self-advocacy.” In the screening, athletes are assessed in the areas of height, weight, blood pressure, and bone density. Then they receive the opportunity to go through seven education stations on a variety of Health Promotion topics. This is a wonderful screening for athletes to go through to get a good idea of where their overall health is and ways to help them improve it or continue to stay healthy.
This Clinical Director hat that I wear fits perfectly into my professional experience and what I currently do for SOCO. Being a Clinical Director helps provide me with a great inside perspective on the screenings, which helps provide me with tools to best assist the Clinical Directors in the other seven disciplines. Being a staff member and a Clinical Director also allows SOCO to easily offer this screening multiple times throughout the year. Since I will be at the events already, it is an effortless way to provide a screening for our athletes and spread the knowledge of health. This also helps assist in spreading the word about Inclusive Health. Being a Clinical Director provides me with even more information on health that I can utilize when talking to future partners and making sure more of Colorado knows what Inclusive Health is. The more we can do to make the world more inclusive, THE BETTER!