When conditions change, so do you
26 May 2020

This text was written in a living room five kilometers away from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) office in Athens, but it could have been written anywhere—on a remote island, on a mountaintop.

The pandemic has seemed to draw a hard line between the jobs that can be done from nowhere in particular and jobs that must be done somewhere very particular. In certain professions, personal contact is vital; the doctor, the coach, and the fitness instructor cannot do their jobs remotely.

Or can they?

This is the question nonprofit organization Regeneration & Progress (R&P) has been seeking to answer since the first days of the lockdown in Greece. All the organization’s programs are based on direct contact with people.

For an unknown period moving forward, the doctors and nurses with R&P’s Mobile Medical Units will not be able to travel to conduct health examinations and provide care for residents of Greece’s remote islands and regions. In this landscape of uncertainty, one thing is certain: R&P could not simply hit pause on providing vital care. They set up a hotline to deliver telemedicine, distributed brochures providing information on the virus, and conducted webinars on health and nutrition for residents of Agathonisi, Kimolos, and 24 other islands.

R&P’s Sports Paths program, which creatively engages children living on remote islands with the goal of improving their health, has continued in the same vein. Their new meeting place: on-screen in each child’s home. Daily sessions led by physical education teachers include sun salutations, stretching, and games involving knights and castles for children living in Agios Efstratios, Kastelorizo, Tilos, Kasos and Lipsi.

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) is temporarily closed, but yoga, Pilates, and Tai chi lessons organized by R&P continue virtually. The instructors unroll their mats in the SNFCC park and students—each from their own home—follow along.
For young competitive athletes who were unable to continue training, things have been more complicated. R&P’s specialized Sports Excellence program provided solutions to help them keep their momentum, organizing more than 50 online sports seminars for 300 young swimming, handball, volleyball, and canoe-kayak athletes and creating tailored videos for home training.

Under the difficult conditions created by the pandemic, R&P’s programmatic offerings have even expanded. Sports programs for children with disabilities, previously scheduled to launch in September 2020, have already come online, offering more than 20 courses to 18 families of children with special needs.

One lesson that the pandemic has reinforced: life finds a way. Regeneration & Progress adapted quickly to the new conditions and continued, even from afar, to stand by the people who count on it. And the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) remains here to support the organization’s work, the value of which makes itself clear in what participants have to say about the programs.

Thank you for helping out my child, a child with special needs. We all have a common goal, a better future for these children.”

Anastasia

The continuation of the Sports Paths program during the COVID-19 pandemic was very important for both children and adults, as it helped keep a part of our daily lives intact!

Maria Kakali, Mayor of Agios Efstratios and mother of two

…today’s Pilates class made us finally get off our sofas and rejuvenated us. It helped us rediscover ourselves and our good habits, which of course you created for us in the pre-COVID-19 era!

Despina Melenti

Learn more about R&P’s Mobile Medical Units: 

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