THI Australia Supports Visionary Schools Volunteering Program


November 7, 2018

A national, innovative educational program promoting volunteering, solidarity and active citizenship among school children in Greece is being supported for a second year by The Hellenic Initiative Australia.

I Care & Act (Nοιάζομαι και Δρω) – which launched its 2018-19 program in Athens on 6 November – aims to create active, responsible citizens through the planning and implementation of volunteer activities in the students’ local communities.

The Hellenic Initiative Australia has provided an AU$30,000 grant for the 2018-19 I Care & Act program, which is implemented by the Desmos Non-Profit Foundation and the Lambrakis Foundation.

“The Hellenic Initiative Australia is pleased to be supporting this progressive educational program, which inspires children to become active and engaged citizens and motivates the communities and networks around them,” said Nicholas Pappas, President of The Hellenic Initiative Australia.

“This initiative is a credit to Desmos because its primary focus is on the young people of Greece, where the future of the nation inevitably lies,” Mr Pappas said.

Since the program began in 2015, more than 38,500 students, 2,760 teachers and thousands of parents have participated through 481 public schools in all 13 prefectures of Greece.

I Care & Act is about creating a better future for Greece, it’s about cultivating the concepts of solidarity, volunteerism and active citizenship in the younger generation as a way of life.” – Ekavi Valleras

“The Hellenic Initiative Australia has been an incredible partner in this innovative educational program,” said Desmos co-founder and Director of Strategic Planning, Ekavi Valleras.

“I Care & Act is about creating a better future for Greece, it’s about cultivating the concepts of solidarity, volunteerism and active citizenship in the younger generation as a way of life.”

I Care & Act has developed original educational material designed for all grades from kindergarten to high school, as well as special education schools. Teachers participating in I Care & Act receive training and scientific support in workshops and online throughout the school year. A range of free tools and materials is available online (www.noiazomaikaidrw.gr).

Ms Valleras said I Care & Act was the only program in Greece that exclusively addressed active citizenship, giving back to those more vulnerable, solidarity and volunteerism – issues that are high on the global education and citizenship agenda.

“I Care & Act takes students out of the classroom, it guides the discussion of what they care about, what challenges their communities and helps them explore solutions to the problems they see around them. They are enabled to take responsibility and to actively participate in creating positive change.”

Students discuss and plan a range of volunteer and civic engagement initiatives, creating powerful synergies with local, national and international NGOs and community organisations.

“We’ve seen that students choose issues across the board: social welfare, senior citizen care, soup kitchens, learning about people with disabilities, homelessness, interacting with students from special needs schools or helping refugees,” Ms Valleras said.

“By participating in meaningful projects, they gain a better understanding of the world and a sense of the responsibility to help others and to be aware of challenges they might face. Ultimately, it makes them better, confident citizens.”

The positive impact of the program is reinforced as children inspire parents (7 out of 10 parents get involved), institutions and peers to participate in their volunteer projects.

“We hope that one day I Care & Act will become part of the national school curriculum, inspiring every student to make our world a better place,” Ms Valleras said.