Basketball and Smiles in Namibia
Focusing on the athletes at a Camp Shriver event allowed us to involve partners without intellectual disabilities as assistant coaches. We paired up each athlete with one partner so that we had “buddies” for the rest of the week. For me, the most wonderful moments consisted of observing the partners working with the athletes, showing them in a very kind way how to master the exercises. I was very surprised how well the partners took on responsibility and how patient and understanding they were with their buddies. Never before have I seen such big smiles on the faces of players after scoring a basket.
All in all, I know that every participant, from player to coach, benefited greatly from this experience at Camp Shriver. The athletes who seemed to develop their skills immensely from day to day; the partners who grew into the function of coaches, and the volunteers and coaches who had to deal with such a diverse group of players, becoming aware of how they are getting each player involved and of how they are teaching basketball in a very intensive way. It was great to see how by doing sports and having fun, the disability status of the players became more and more irrelevant and friendships were made amongst the teammates.
Being part of Camp Shriver showed me a very fun aspect of working with a mixed group of athletes and partners, and definitely motivated me to continue being involved with Special Olympics.
I am a volunteer from Germany working with the Basketball Artist School. We teach young children basketball and help them with homework after school. Camp Shriver was my first encounter with Special Olympics athletes.