A special role for ‘Play Unified. Learn Unified.’ at SNFestival

Special Olympics athletes were honoured to play an important role in the recent Summer Nostos Festival (SNFestival)—a multifaceted international arts, sports and education festival organised every June by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation in Athens, Greece.
A group of people run towards the camera and across a finish line holding banners and waving their arms in the air.

Every summer, the SNFestival brings together art, music, sports, and discourse to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center. This June, the SNFestival coincided with the first anniversary of the Special Olympics-Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) partnership, which was announced last year during the 8th Stavros Niarchos Foundation International Conference.

Special Olympics was among the partner organisations singled out for praise by SNF co-President, Andreas Dracopoulos during his opening address at this year’s SNF Conference, a pivotal event of the Festival. This namecheck is testament to the powerful work that SNF and Special Olympics have done together over the past year through the ‘Play Unified. Learn Unified’ platform. Now active in 14 countries across the world, ‘Play Unified. Learn Unified.’ drives inclusive education through sports and related programming, providing students of all abilities the opportunity to learn and play together. A joint SNF-Special Olympics video depicting the first year of this innovative global initiative was also shown for the first time at the conference—a singular honour for the project at this high-profile event.

A group of people in formal clothes face the camera smiling. They are standing in the sunshine in front of a wall with mountains in the background.
Representatives from Special Olymics Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Special Olympics Serbia and Special Olympics Europe Eurasia at the recent SNF Conference as part of the SNFestival in Athens.

Special Olympics and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation were also committed to showcasing the partnership for the city of Athens. To this end, 200 Special Olympics Hellas (Greece) athletes were joined by Special Olympics Europe Eurasia President and Managing Director, David Evangelista, Special Olympics Hellas President Ambassador Kodellas, volunteers and supporters to proudly run the streets of Athens for the dedicated Special Olympics 1K as part of the 5th SNF RUN: Running into the Future. The theme of the race as a whole serves as an apt descriptor for the SNF-Special Olympics collaboration as both organizations move together into the second year of a powerful partnership in motion.

A group of people in sports gear stand in front of a set of steps smiling to the camera with their arms around each other.
Special Olympics Europe Eurasia President and Managing Director, David Evangelista with Special Olympics Hellas athletes at the dedicated Special Olympics 1K as part of the 5th SNF RUN: Running into the Future.

Following the 1K run alongside Special Olympics Hellas athletes, David Evangelista, noted, “Special Olympics is honoured to be the only organisation to have a dedicated section within the SNF RUN. We are also so proud to showcase the growing Special Olympics-Stavros Niarchos Foundation partnership, and what we have achieved together in just one year. Having reached over 10,000 young people globally to date, ‘Play Unified. Learn Unified.’ is testament to the incredible power of this collaboration!”

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