Sports have the power to change the world. That’s the guiding principle of Laureus Sport for Good. The positive experiences that children have when they do sports together strengthen them for life. Bodo Uebber, the member of Daimler's Board of Management responsible for finance and controlling, confirmed this belief once again during a day he spent recently with the Laureus Snow Tigers on the ski slopes in Stuhleck, Austria.
For the participating children from the Komitschule, an integrated school in Vienna, it was as though December 14 were already Christmas Day. It was their first day on the ski slopes — the day for which they had practiced so long, on skis, snowboards, ski bobsleds or bi-skis. Experiencing the fascination of winter sports for themselves, breathing the bracing mountain air, discovering their own strengths and skills, and simply being kids — these are the experiences that the Laureus “Snow Tiger” project makes possible for children and young people between six and 14 years of age who are dealing with mental and physical limitations. “Through its projects, Laureus gives these special children a special kind of joy,” says Bodo Uebber. He believes that the global involvement of Daimler AG as a partner of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation is “the right way to go — there’s nothing more urgent and more rewarding than helping to create a better future for children.”
The children participating in the project regularly receive individualized preparatory training, interspersed with highlights — days spent out in the snow. The groups are deliberately mixed so that the very different children in each group can learn from one another. And they have a lot of fun doing exactly that. “You can feel the enthusiasm that sports arouse in the children’s hearts,” says Uebber, who made a special trip to the ski slope in Stuhleck near Vienna to spend a day with the Snow Tigers. Uebber is an enthusiastic skier himself. And enthusiasm grows if it’s shared — especially if it’s shared with children. “Sports are helping them to develop self-confidence and boldly tackle challenges. It strengthens them for life,” he says.
Everyone can do it
Uebber, who visited the Snow Tigers project today for the second time, insisted on leading the group of 23 children and their five teachers and caregivers himself. “It’s fascinating to see how much know-how and sensitivity the project team members bring to their work with the kids,” says Uebber, who gives the Laureus kids tips himself and pitches in wherever help is needed. The project leader, Thorsten Gegenwarth, has always kept his promise to the children: “Whoever wants to go out on the ski slopes will be able to go.” In other words, it doesn’t matter how great an individual child’s handicap might be — all of them go out together on the slopes.
The Laureus kids have had many prominent visitors, but it’s always something very special for them. “In addition to the Daimler Board of Management member Bodo Uebber, Olympic champions and Laureus ambassadors such as Anna Veith, Franz Klammer, and Felix Gottwald have gone out on the slopes with the children,” says Paul Schif, the Managing Director of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation for Germany and Austria.
The shared goal of the Sport for Good Foundation and its prominent ambassadors is to provide access to regular sports activities to as many socially disadvantaged children and young people as possible. Through the support provided in parallel by social-educational counselors, the participants receive the opportunity to learn values such as fairness, team spirit, and discipline in a playful way and integrate them into their lives.
This exceptional day was rounded off with a shared traditional mountain-hut meal of Bern sausages and French fries. To sum things up, Uebber said, “It’s wonderful to experience at first hand the effects of shared sports activities on everyone involved and the way everyone’s hearts have opened up. The day has really energized not only the children but me as well.”