Children from all over Greece convene for the environment

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For the 23rd year, HELMEPA organised the Board of Representatives of children-members of the HELMEPA Junior Program in Athens, on Friday.

As in the previous years, the event was hosted by member company Costamare Shipping, true to the spirit of its founder, the late Captain Vassilis Constantakopoulos.

The 13 children, aged five to 12, from Florina, Rodopi, Messinia, Magnessia, Ioannina, Thessaloniki, Evros, Aitoloakarnania, Attica and the islands of Corfu, Kassos and Lesvos, who were the leaders of the most active groups and representatives of the 7,675 children-members of the past school year, convened in HELMEPA’s environmental Exhibition, at the Costamare building.

During their meeting, the children exchanged experiences from the Program, referred to environmental problems in their areas, proposed further actions to HELMEPA’s competent staff and elected for the 2016-2017 school year eight-year-old Nikolaos Ferentinos, from Vonitsa as their Chairman, five-year-old Orestis Iliadis, from the Kindergarten of Ag. Antonios Thermis in Thessaloniki, as their Vice Chairman and nine-year-old Constantinos Ailianos-Xanthos, from the Elementary School of the Athens College as their Secretary.

At the same time, the accompanying parents, volunteer teachers who supervised the children’s activities and local coordinators of schools’ environmental education activities attended a special informative event. They were welcomed by the Director General of HELMEPA, D Mitsatsos, who referred to the “birth” of HELMEPA Junior, a many year-long vision that was brought to life in 1993 and embraced by Captain Vassilis. This support continues to date by his family, which Mr Mitsatsos thanked along with Costamare for hosting the event.

Addressing the guests, the son of Captain Vassilis, Achilleas, spoke about his father’s affection for and belief in children, stressing that “the environmental awareness and sensitisation that the Program offers to the children constitutes the most significant contribution towards achieving the aims of HELMEPA and a sustainable future”. Concluding, Mr Constantakopoulos thanked the teachers for their dedication to their work.

Following, the Chairman of HELMEPA, Dr George Gratsos, spoke to the guests underlining that the association is a voluntary organisation, financially supported solely by the contributions of its volunteer-members. The sponsorship of the Constantakopoulos family, he said, enhances significantly the activities of the 92,000 children-members and the 3,000 volunteer- teachers that participated so far in the Program. He also stressed the value of cooperation towards achieving its aims and closed his brief address by referring to the benefits of recycling.

Maria Dopokopoulou of the Institue of Educational Policy of the Ministry for Education, Research and Religion mentioned, among other, in her address, that the HELMEPA Junior Program “not only informs and sensitises the kids, but also promotes cooperation among them, which is democracy in practice”.

Former Chairman of HELMEPA, Nicky Pappadakis, praised the importance of HELMEPA’s work and expressed his joy that now, pupils from his homeland, the remote island of Kassos, also participate in the Program.

HELMEPA’s Executive Coordinator, Christiana Prekezes, presented the “marine litter” topic and the results of the association’s activities towards preventing this type of pollution.

She was followed by the volunteer teachers, each of whom presented in brief the environmental activities carried out by children-members of the “HELMEPA Junior” groups, with their support and guidance.

The event continued with the children-members of the Board of Representatives joining the event and announcing their newly elected officials for the 2016-2017 school year. The new Chairman, Nikos Ferentinos, read out the children’s message to the adult society: “No one is keeping clean our blue sea, so listen to us carefully,kids are taking over. Please help us to achieve this, because there is no other home like our planet.”

This was followed by the presentation of commemorative diplomas and gifts to children, parents and teachers by HELMEPA, a lunch offered by Costamare Company and a visit to the Planetarium of the Eugenides Foundation, where kids and adults all enjoyed a digital show.