Grigonis: “People don’t do enough for the development of society” 0

For the sixth year running, Zalgiris actively participated in the international social responsibility program One Team. As the season comes to a finish, the team addressed its’ impact and results, while one of the project’s ambassadors Marius Grigonis encouraged more people to take part in social action. According to the swingman, that would not only help the communities to grow, but for the country as a whole to develop.

“With this chance to join the EuroLeague Basketball program, I understood that we’re all living in enclosed circles of people. Not only do we do little to help the local communities, but we don’t even understand what problems people face in the day-to-day life. We’re like in an aquarium and anything that’s outside of it has not meaning to us. We don’t understand that the kids that grew up in struggling families have limited opportunities to reach something in life. Perhaps no role models, noone to look up to, an encouragement to aim for something higher.”

During those six years, Zalgiris methodically worked with troubled youth. Usually those, who we’re likely to take on crime, those who have learning disabilities or simply those having troubles in the maturation years. The standard structure of the program was a 12-week cycle, during which the youth develops a value system playing game with basketball.

A questionnaire after the program reveals a clear positive impact. 95 percent of the participants said that they learned something new that will help them in life. 84 percent of them revealed that this initiative helped them set a future goal. Amongst them – finishing school, graduate college, try out new hobbies that would help them find themselves.

The activities were brightened by visits from the Zalgiris ambassadors and opportunities to try out other sports activities – football, rugby, American football – and a meeting with wheelchair basketball athletes.

The program coordinator, Zalgiris communications director Akvile Dagilyte, shared her insights on what One Team achieves:

“We’ve noticed that meetings with handicapped sports athletes leave the largest mark on the participants. Having heard their stories, they understand how important it is not to give up after losses and to cling on tightly on life. Also, how much easier it is to aim for their goals when they are healthy. Once they understand that, it’s sort of a motivation to act here and now. To set a goal and methodically aim for it.

Most of the participants don’t have a stable social standing and the program allows them to expand their horizons, to communicate and learn from people living in a different environment. Once the program is over, they often name Zalgiris players, program coordinators and volunteers as someone to look up to, role models.

Zalgiris has been working with the Kaunas reformatory, Kaunas regional probation service, Kaunas boys socialization center and the Center for psychological support and consultation and will be searching for a new social partner to extend the changes in the local communities.

EuroLeague awarded Zalgiris for the development and carrying out of the One Team initiative, as the socially responsible company Ramirent has been working alongside Zalgiris for the second year now, helping the program reach better results.