As part of One Team, Euroleague Basketball's social responsibility program, Zalgiris Kaunas has joined forces with Special Olympics Lithuania for a 12-week program of activities that had the participants working on their communication and teamwork skills, instilling values and knowledge that will help in the future.
Zalgiris community gets involved in One Team program
In one of the final meetings, the participants had a chance to showcase what they had learned during the activities by presenting their favorite games to a group of guests: Zalgiris partner and One Team supporter Ramirent Lietuva, representatives from Vilkyskiu Pienine, the city municipality, and members of the Zalgiris organization itself.
Eligijus Baikauskas from Ramirent Lietuva, who have been supporting the project for the past five years, said: "This was supposed to be a challenge for the youngsters, but it seems that the One Team activities strengthened their self-belief so much that we didn't even notice any nervousness. Perhaps it was even us feeling more nervous than them. Having made constant visits to Zalgirio Arena for the last couple months, they felt at home here, whereas we were guests. In these meetings you can clearly see the positive impact that Zalgiris and One Team have on these participants, and it's really good to feel a part of it."
Traditionally, the final meeting of One Team's first group has been capped by a meeting with Zalgiris players, the program's ambassadors. And this year was no different, with Marek Blazevic and Niels Giffey undertaking the role, participating in games and handing out diplomas.
Program participant Pijus enthused: "It's always most fun to meet the players, to receive a diploma, take a photo. I had my dream come true here, as I met my favorite player Mantas Kalnietis in the arena, and I got his signature. I'll remember this day for a long time."
Another strong One Team involvement from Zalgiris came with the Walking Challenge that took place during the week of One Team Games in February.
The most active One Team participant was Tadas, who said: "I always walk a lot, usually 20,000 steps a day, sometimes more. I walk a lot at work. I like taking a stroll in the evening, too. I've walked Kaunas from one end to the other. I'm happy One Team is encouraging people to walk more because it improves your health."
One Team, supported by Turkish Airlines as the One Team Founding Patron and with the collaboration of Special Olympics as Proud Partner, uses basketball to achieve real social impact in our communities. With an innovative model of interconnectedness across an entire continent, Euroleague Basketball and its clubs have developed a complete CSR program that brings together activities from each team in an integrated, impactful way, working under the theme of "community integration" that actively addresses targets of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 10 on Reduced Inequalities.
Each participating club develops a specific One Team project tailored to its own community needs to benefit groups in danger of exclusion due to problems such as substance abuse and gender, physical or intellectual disability. Since its founding in 2012, the One Team program has reached already directly and indirectly more than 23,000 participants through its various team projects.