MISSOULA, Mont. — A Missoula woman was recognized internationally as one of the seven health trailblazers in the world for her efforts in health equity.
Rebecca Morley won the 2022 Global Golisano Health Leadership Award.
The award recognizes individuals that make significant contribution to secure equal access to health, fitness and wellness for those with intellectual disabilities.
It also promotes awareness for fulfilling the goals, values and mission of Special Olympics Health work.
Watch this segment from Special Olympics International about Rebecca Morley's work.
The following information was sent out by Special Olympics Montana:
Rebecca Morley of Missoula has been recognized as one of seven health trailblazers in the world.
The Global Golisano Health Leadership Awards recognize health champions—leaders and organizations—that are making a significant contribution to secure equal access to health, fitness or wellness for people with intellectual disabilities. The award also promotes awareness of the progress and extraordinary efforts toward fulfilling the goals, values and mission of Special Olympics Health work.
As the Global Representative for the North America and Caribbean region, Morley stood shoulder to shoulder with other 2022 Health Leadership Award recipients from Chile, Japan, Lebanon, Macau, Senegal, and Ukraine who were recently recognized in New York City.
Morley met with Special Olympics International Board Chair, Timothy Shriver and the US Surgeon General, Vivek H. Murthy but was most impacted by the other award recipients. “These are really important people, like the deputy prime minister of Ukraine! It was amazing to see what work that they are doing and to hear their stories.”
In her career at the Missoula City-County Health Department, Rebecca worked tirelessly to champion inclusive health for 15 years, to ensure that people with intellectual disabilities were included in mainstream public health programs. She also worked to ensure that individuals with intellectual disabilities were included in the annual BMI surveillance at local public schools. This data was then used to advocate for the elimination of using food such as sweet treats as a reward in all classrooms, which became policy for Missoula County Public Schools and remains in place today.
Morley also brought awareness of health inequity to future healthcare workers.
“I had the opportunity to take interns from health and human performance during my tenure at the department of health. Were able to take these interns and nursing students out into the community and to talk to them about the propensity of Special Olympics athletes and others with IDD to have health disparities in obesity and how we can work to be proactive by helping them get better exercise, healthier foods and educate their families.”
Morley’s dedication and work towards health equity began with the birth of her son forty years ago.
“If one doesn’t have strong family advocates, they can miss opportunities. That’s why it is so wonderful that we can do health screenings for Special Olympic athletes because some of those people would be falling through the cracks, and we wouldn’t be able to make diagnosis that help them have a better life.”
While Morley has retired from her position as Senior Community Health Specialist for the Missoula City-County Health Department, she will continue to advocate for health equity through her volunteer work as clinical director for Special Olympics Montana Health Promotion.