Everyone experienced the past few months of lockdown differently, but a shared experience was abrupt discontinuation of the activities that brought us structure and fulfillment.
For Special Olympics athletes with intellectual disabilities, lockdown meant that they were suddenly unable to train in the way they had been, take part in competitions, or get together with coaches and teammates.
Supporting these athletes and their families became more critical than ever under the conditions created by the pandemic. Adapting its strategy and services and building on the strong bond it has developed with its members, Special Olympics Hellas was there for them. The organization created informative videos on taking precautions for COVID-19, videos to help athletes stay fit at home, and messages of encouragement from coaches.
The organization found positive, lighthearted ways to keep the community engaged, like Virtual High 5, where athletes and coached high fived virtually, each from their own home. Webinars have integrated new coordinators and coaches into the Special Olympics Hellas family so they can get into action as soon as things return to normal.
A grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) supports the expansion of the Special Olympics Hellas programs throughout the country. At the same time, SNF supports the work of Special Olympics International with a $10 million three-year grant for the Play Unified – Learn Unified program. Through the implementation of inclusive sports programming in dozens of countries around the world—including Brazil, Kenya, Tanzania, and Indonesia—Play Unified – Learn Unified fosters equal participation by all young people, with and without mental disabilities, in sports and society.