Effective social action is possible remotely 0

A quarantine that has lasted more than half of a year has halted all informal education, with only a select few now being carried out remotely. Some of the most-affected groups of the society due to the halted activities are the children, whose parents have limited resources to provide the conditions for remote activities.

The Special Olympics youngsters with intellectual development disorders, who have been participating in the EuroLeague Basketball and Zalgiris initiated social project One Team, run into similar problems. While their energy was previously directed towards physical activity – a constant preparation and participation in sports competitions, these activities are now gone.

That is one of the reasons why Zalgiris decided to take the One Team project to a remote area, with a methodic approach, and a weekly virtual sports development meeting.

Modern conference equipment for quality meetings

This season the One Team project is financed not only by the long-term partner Ramirent, but also by the Sports support fund, that helped provide the funding for quality remote meetings.

The funds for the project allowed the purchase of a modern conference equipment which allows the One Team coach to show the physical exercises clearly and correctly, while keeping an eye on the youngsters who are repeating those exercises at home.

“During live meetings we had the opportunity to interact, motivate each participant of the project, to demonstrate physical exercises and correct if someone wasn’t doing it in the right way. Moving to remote meetings provided a shock, as we understood that without normal conditions, you can’t quite pass on the exercise correctly, and its mission impossible to keep track if it is being repeated in the right manner. The decision with the remote conference equipment took the meeting quality to a whole new level,” – noted Gediminas Navickas, one of the coaches of One Team, and the team manager of Zalgiris-2.

The involvement of One Team ambassadors

The participation of the One Team ambassadors Martinas Geben and Joffrey Lauvergne has a major impact on the project participants’ motivation.

“This year’s program ambassadors are very involved in the project activities. They not only keenly join the virtual meetings, but also interact with the youngsters playing remote games, supporting them, joking around, and simply bringing more life in to these meetings,” – highlighted project coordinator Akvile Dagilyte.

The ambassadors also took on the EuroLeague life skills program, with Joffrey Lauvergne becoming one of the main faces to introduce skills such as motivation, self-confidence. The two Zalgiris men have already shared their inspiring examples about respect.

Remote activities bringing positive changes

Although it is more difficult to include the youngsters into the virtual meetings, to grow their teamwork and other life skills, even working remotely the program has revealed some positive changes.

“I’ve noticed that after the activities, the youngsters have changed a lot – they’ve become braver, less afraid to take responsibility, they’ve learned to not give up if something doesn’t work out right away. As I continue working with the youngsters who have participated in the project, I hear less and less of “I don’t know how to”, “I can’t do it” and I see them working hard until they succeed, and also motivate others to do so as well,” – noted Special Olympics Lithuania representative Vaiva Abramaviciute.

The youngsters were asked to highlight some of the key things that they learned, and they mentioned the importance of sport and science in life, the importance of teamwork, not giving up and keeping a good relationship with the people surrounding you.

“As we go through this project, it’s important that the youth not only have a good time during the activities, that they don’t let up sports, but also that the project would leave a lasting mark on their lives. Looking back at the changes and examples illustrated in real life, you can see the true results. That inspires to continue working on the activities, no matter if it’s in person or remotely. Of course, we still hope that next season will be better and the activities will hopefully be transferred to in-person ones,” – said Akvile Dagilyte.

Zalgiris Kaunas has been working with the One Team project for eight years, and has hosted almost 200 activities with 250 youngsters from socially vulnerable groups. For the last four years, Zalgiris’ One Team activities are helped by the socially responsible company Ramirent, while starting 2020, the project is co-funded by the Sports support fund, administered by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports, the Education exchange support fund and the Central project management agency.