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An experience that lasts
A corporate volunteer’s perspective from the National Games 2022
So here we are! 7 incredible days have passed with countless sporting competitions, memories, experiences and lessons learnt about inclusion and sport. To put it into words is already a challenge, but I will give it a go.
My corporate volunteering journey started several months ago with the application experience, which was super straightforward and enjoyable with a team always ready to help.
But back to the Games themselves. Below are a few of my thoughts about sports, inclusion and Berlin from the week of the National Games - and of course, why you should volunteer next year!
1. When a city is together and united, we are truly unbeatable
When we arrived two days before the Games, you could already sense that a festival was taking place. Every street corner was draped in advertisements, Brandenburg Gate was setting stage and you couldn’t walk 5 minutes in Berlin without seeing the Special Olympics.
Apart from adverts, the sheer number of local and international organizations, corporate and nonprofits taking part and supporting has been spectacular. Just seeing the lengths and measures the city is taking for inclusion is a benchmark to being truly unbeatable.
2. Unified Sports® are the way forward for inclusion!
It was a phenomenal experience from start to finish across all the sports. Watching the competitiveness, the closeness, the rivalries and the fans of all the Unified Sports® was a true leveler. To me, it embodied the inclusive experience of having everybody with all abilities on the same pitch, loving the game and respecting each other.
The tension of the results was certainly felt throughout with wild celebrations for a win and emotional embraces over a loss. If this is what we saw in 2022, I can’t wait to see what 2023 brings at the World Games.
3. A smile goes a long way
Being a volunteer at the Games is not just an opportunity to help a specific team but the job is so much more. You might work with one team in the morning but outside your role, you are the friendly face for the athletes, their families and friends.
One of the most meaningful experiences of our week has been when we were spectators, cheering on our favorite athletes, getting to know them personally and supporting their journey to the finals!
4. There’s something special about being in a global community
Sport is an avenue to capture hearts and minds but what’s unique here has been the global community of the Special Olympics. There are different countries, cultures, disabilities, thoughts and talent levels but everybody has one goal – to be a part of it.
The Special Olympics has ingrained a culture of togetherness that is very rarely seen and is a movement that must be replicated in every sporting and non-sporting event.
5. Don’t forget to not throw away your water bottle!
Berlin and Germany takes recycling and environmental consciousness seriously, very seriously. If you’ve made it this far and are already planning your trip to Berlin, don’t forget to start practicing not throwing away your water bottle and recycling it. Actually, it's quite fun after a while.
It has truly been an honor and a privilege to do my small part with the Special Olympics, the athletes, the families and supporters and I can’t wait to do it all again next year at the World Games!
Text by Ilan Fisher, corporate volunteer during the Special Olympics National Games Berlin 2022.