The bowling match included athletes from the Special Olympics Kos Training Program and the local Special Olympics teams of Kalymnos and Rhodes. The remote event helped bring athletes together after more than two months of separation and disruption to training and competition schedules forced by the pandemic. Special Olympics Hellas has devised a number of ways to use technology to keep athletes active and in contact with each other and their coaches, despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.
Dimitris, who took part from the island of Kalymnos, said, “I stayed in my house for two months; I wasn’t going out at all… I missed my friends, my teacher Nektaria, and the people I love who I could not see. We started training with our coach Anastasia when she told us that we would take part in a bowling tournament. I was happy and waited impatiently for the day it would begin.” Alienta from Kos said, “For me it was the perfect day. Singing the Special Olympics Hellas anthem in my hometown during the bowling tournament was a dream come true.” Nikos from Rhodes said, “It was really nice that the games took place online. I wish I could see my friends from Kos and Kalymnos, so that we could laugh and hang out together, but it’s okay. What matters is that the games actually happened.”
A grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) supports the expansion of Special Olympics Hellas programs throughout Greece. SNF is also supporting the work of Special Olympics International with a three-year, $10 million grant for the Play Unified – Learn Unified program. Through the inclusive sports programming in dozens of countries around the world—including Brazil, Kenya, Tanzania, and Indonesia—Play Unified – Learn Unified promotes equal participation by all young people, regardless of ability, both on and off the playing field.