Allegheny Health Network to provide Comprehensive Medical and Behavioral Health Support at the 45th Annual Special Olympics Pennsylvania Winter Games

Updated on February 12, 2024

On-site support from AHN Sports Medicine and the AHN Chill Project will prioritize holistic wellness for athletes and participants 

Allegheny Health Network (AHN) Sports Medicine experts will again provide on-site medical services for the 300 athletes competing in this year’s Special Olympics Pennsylvania Winter Games – and for the first time, they will also be joined by AHN Chill Project educators, who will provide behavioral health support and wellness activities for the athletes.

The 45th annual Winter Games, which will host 200 coaches and 500 volunteers in addition to the athletes, will be held Tuesday, Feb. 13, through Thursday, Feb. 15, at Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Somerset County, Pennsylvania. Highmark Inc. is one of the Winter Games’ lead sponsors. 

A team of athletic trainers, residents, and sports medicine primary care physicians will provide on-site medical coverage for the duration of the games, led by orthopaedic surgeon Robert Schilken, MD

As the designated medical provider for the Special Olympics in Western Pennsylvania, AHN has also been helping athletes prepare for the Winter Games by providing physical exams over the last year. 

“AHN is honored to once again support the remarkable athletes competing in the Winter Games with our sports medicine expertise,” said Dr. Schilken. “Our long-standing commitment to enhancing performance, preventing injuries, and promoting overall well-being aligns seamlessly with the spirit of inclusivity, competition and physical fitness promoted by the Special Olympics.”  

Additionally, the AHN Chill Project will host a pop-up AHN Chill Room to support the mental and emotional wellness of the Special Olympics competitors. The AHN Chill Project, now five years old, provides students across Western Pennsylvania with a wide range of opportunities to learn and practice mindfulness techniques and coping skills, usually in a school-based setting. 

This month’s visit to Seven Springs marks the AHN Chill Project’s first trip to the Special Olympics.

The pop-up AHN Chill Room will serve as a calming space for athletes and participants to learn evidence-based coping skills, breathing exercises, and relaxation techniques. Two behavioral health school educators from the AHN Chill Project will be onsite for the duration of the games to support athletes through the facilitation of a variety of educational lessons and drop-in services. 

“Athletic achievement is about more than physical skill,” said William Davies, Ed.D., founder and director of the AHN Chill Project. “Whether the athletes need a moment of quiet or some help dealing with pre-event jitters, we aim to inspire resilience, confidence, and a sense of accomplishment by prioritizing both the physical and the mental well-being of these amazing athletes.” 

Special Olympics Pennsylvania provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. This year’s Winter Games will feature competitions in alpine skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing. 

About the Allegheny Health Network: 

Allegheny Health Network (AHN.org) is an integrated healthcare delivery system serving the greater Western Pennsylvania region.  The Network is composed of 14 hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, Health + Wellness Pavilions, multiple employed physician organizations, home and community based health services, a research institute, and a group purchasing organization. The Network provides patients with access to a complete spectrum of advanced medical services, including nationally recognized programs for primary and emergency care, trauma care, cardiovascular disease, organ transplantation, cancer care, orthopedic surgery, neurology and neurosurgery, women’s health, diabetes, autoimmune disease and more.  AHN employs approximately 22,000 people, has more than 2,600 physicians on its medical staff and serves as a clinical campus for Drexel University College of Medicine and the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine.  

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