Making Inclusive Health A Reality

Parker Thornton is 37 years old, plays golf, and is an avid writer living in New Hampshire. Today, Parker is a Special Olympics Health Messenger, delivering speeches and motivating advocates across the United States for inclusive health for people with intellectual disabilities.

BY Megan Strembitsky | August 2018 | Category: Healthcare

Making Inclusive Health A Reality

But when Parker was born, few would have guessed he would be where he was on June 30, 2018: speaking to an audience of 300 health leaders, including the U.S. Surgeon General Vice Admiral Jerome M. Adams, at the Inclusive Health Summit in Seattle, Washington.

As a newborn, Parker contracted viral meningitis and was hospitalized at Boston’s Children’s Hospital for five weeks, much of it on life support. He survived his first challenge, but with brain damage that left him with significant learning disabilities, an anxiety disorder, and resulting depression. Doctors told his parents he was dying and that if he lived would need to be in an institution. For people with intellectual disabilities, like Parker, access to good healthcare, nutrition, and exercise is critical to wellbeing and full participation in society. 

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