The power of One Team, Euroleague Basketball’s social responsibility program, to make a real difference and change people’s lives for the better has a shining example in the work undertaken by Arka Gdynia with a young fan.
The Polish team has been using One Team to support Bartek, a blind boy with cerebral infraction (a form of brain damage). Sport is Bartek's greatest passion, and for many years he has been a big supporter of Arka. He loves attending games to feel the atmosphere inside the gym, and avidly follows every game.
This season, Bartek joined the club's One Team sessions, which have been carried out in partnership with the City Hall of Gdynia to create a new program helping a group of 10 wheelchair users aged 12 to 21.
The objective of the program is to boost the social integration, self-esteem and self-confidence of the participants, and the particular challenge with Bartek was that when he joined the sessions he was very shy.
"He was afraid of contact with people, he was afraid to talk to them," Aleksandra Wojcik, Arka Gdynia's One Team Manager, said. "After joining One Team he tried to open himself up to the group, and started talking with the other athletes. Eventually he became the soul of the group, and now he is more open with strangers. He’s not afraid of talking and he can discuss many subjects with greater confidence."
As part of its support for Bartek, Arka also raised money to buy him a new wheelchair by organizing a charity auction. His involvement with the One Team program had a wider impact than could be seen at the sessions.
"He also began to leave his house more often and participate in more sports events," Wojcik added. "Bartek and the other athletes created a wonderful group of people, who supported each other every day."
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 meaningful social impact in our communities across Europe and is supported by every club in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague and 7DAYS EuroCup.
Since its founding in 2012, the One Team program has already helped more than 16,000 participants through its various team-focused projects.