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Special Olympics Committee


My name is Haemels Carine Master in Podiatry and Education and BSc. Occupational Therapy. Past president of FIP and Past president of BVP-ABP. Regional Advisor Special Olympics Fit Feet Europe/Eurasia and Scientific research manager Fit Feet Europe/Eurasia.
Liaison between SOI and FIP.

Special Olympics approach is to deliver, high-quality training and competition in an inclusive culture through Unified Sports which allows for people with and without intellectual disabilities to play on the same field.

In 1997, Special Olympics Healthy Athletes® began offering free health screenings and education to Special Olympics athletes in a welcoming, fun environment. Since then, we have delivered over 2 million free health screenings and trained close to 300,000 health professionals and students to treat people with intellectual disabilities. Moreover, Special Olympics Programs have been able to expand their reach of Healthy Athletes, by offering 123,896 screenings since 2016 in new locations or in new disciplines. We offer health screenings in eight disciplines:


  • MedFest (history and physical exam)

  • Special Olympics Lions Clubs International Opening Eyes (vision/eye health)

  • Healthy Hearing (audiology)

  • Special Smiles (dentistry)

  • Health Promotion (prevention and nutrition)

  • Strong Minds (emotional health)

  • FUNfitness (physical therapy)

  • Fit Feet (podiatry)

Despite a mistaken belief that people with intellectual disabilities receive the same or better health care than others, they typically receive sub-standard care or virtually no health care at all.

Healthy Athletes is not only a program for athletes but, through training and hands-on experience at screenings, it is a program for healthcare students and professionals to increase knowledge of best practices in caring for and communicating with people with intellectual disabilities.

FIP was contacted by Special Olympics International in 2002 to help identifying podiatrist worldwide to conduct fit feet screening. During the FIP AGM I was allocated with this task due to the fact that beside I was a podiatrist I also had a degree in Occupational therapy.

In 2003 I followed a train the trainer session at SOI and became a clinical director for Belgium/Luxemburg and conduct my first screening .That same year I expended to all Europe/ Eurasia to become a Regional clinical advisor for Europe Eurasia , Middle East and North of Africa. Since 2005 I participate to the Special Olympics world games as expert for specific need and support on athletes of the covered region and as liaison between FIP and SOI.

In 2012 During a Master education in Brighton, I developed the module “Podiatry and Intellectual disability” and together with Special Olympics international we stimulate the implementation of this module in podiatry education.

The aim of this module is to increase the knowledge of best podiatry practices en adequate communicating with people with intellectual disability.

This implementation is already the case in Belgium podiatry education since 2012.


During the European Summer games of 2014 in Antwerp Education folders for athletes and coaches were developed in 12 languages. And on those games the First MOU between FIP and SOI was signed by Dr. Timothy Shriver and myself as The president of FIP at that time.

Throughout a meeting in Washington in2015 - 2016 and in Montréal at the FIP World Congress Together with Dr. Dave Jenkins (Global advisor Fit Feet) we initiate the standardization of the fit feet screenings.

Furthermore Pilot Project initiate to evaluate the % of athletes who identify how and when they are limited by their feet.

The MOU between FIP and SOI was renewed in 2018 by Dr. Garoufallis (President of FIP on that time).


Main goals of the MOU:

  • Work together toward developing & implementing strategies & programs addressing common interest.

  • Promote volunteering.

  • Help facilitate the recruitment of fit feet clinical directors (networking). Exchange relevant publications, bulletins, other information to promote wellness to ID

  • Promote SOI at the world congress.

  • Provide input and suggestions on the fit feet manual and assist in preparation educations materials.

Message from the SOC Chairperson

Carine SOC_edited.jpg

Ms Haemels Carine

Chairperson SOC

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