Croatian champion and 7DAYS EuroCup participant Cedevita Zagreb recently celebrated World Down Syndrome Day by organising a special session for One Team, Euroleague Basketball’s social responsibility program.
Cedevita is working for the third consecutive season with Down21, an organisation in the city which provides invaluable support for young people aged between 16 and 23 who have Down Syndrome.
This age group is particularly vulnerable because sufferers can become increasingly marginalized and isolated from mainstream society after they leave school, and Down21 is Zagreb’s only organisation which works with young adults rather than children.
Throughout the season, Cedevita’s One Team program has held fun basketball sessions every other Monday afternoon with members of Down21, with the assistance of the club’s One Team ambassador Karlo Zganec.
To mark World Down Syndrome Day on Tuesday 21 March, however, two different players came along to the specially-organised session: Ryan Boatright and Marko Tomas, who participated in the entire session, which included warm-up drills, stretching exercises, skills sets and a finally a shooting contest.
“These sessions take me back to my childhood, when we were just hanging out and playing, so it is lot of fun. It’s a great joy to work and play with our friends from Down21,” said Tomas.
The main goal of the program is to build up the members’ self-confidence and motivation, while also helping them to stay fit. Down21 make a tremendous effort to give the kids the best possible opportunities, and Cedevita is honoured to contribute towards making their lives better.
After the basketball session, the participants connected via Skype with Buba Bar in Vinkovci – the first bar in Croatia which employs people with Down Syndrome.
And the day’s events certainly left a big impression on American guard Boatright, who reflected: “I came away from the session with a big smile on my face.
“I am thankful for the opportunity to spend time with Down21 members, and I also know the chance for them to interact with professional basketball players works wonders for their sense of belonging.”
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.
Since its founding in 2012, the One Team programme has reached already directly and indirectly 12,000 participants through its various team projects.