I Care & Act – Winning the Hearts & Minds of the Next Generation
December 2, 2020
Supporting visionary new programs that aim to make a lasting impact on Greek society has been at the core The Hellenic Initiative Australia’s efforts. After a three-year partnership with Desmos to develop the aspirational I Care & Act education program, it is now on its way to achieving its mission and moving to the next exciting stage.
When Desmos first created the innovative I Care & Act program in 2005, its goal was to cultivate the values of volunteering and active citizenship in young people to fundamentally change the mentality of giving in Greece. The long game was for the education program, which combined academic and experiential learning, to be eventually be adopted in the curriculum of every single school in Greece.
It was an ambitious mission in a country with one of the lowest volunteering rates in Europe but over the past five years, I Care & Act inspired and empowered more than 63,500 students at 681 schools across Greece to become active and engaged citizens and motivated the communities around them.
Implemented in collaboration with the Lambraki Foundation more than 5,200 teachers, thousands of volunteers, parents, community organisations have participated in a range of projects with students, including visiting aged care homes, cleaning beaches, taking care of stray animals, creating community libraries and projects with refugee children.
Through classroom learning and student-led volunteer activities, students experienced the joy of giving, discovered the power of cooperation and their potential to make positive change in the world around them.
Annual external evaluations of the project by the Universities of Patras and the Peloponnese found the program made a significant positive difference in changing students’ attitudes and behaviours.
By August 2020, I Care & Act was on its way to accomplishing its mission – the program was adopted by Greece’s Ministry of Education and Religion, which plans to incorporate it into the national school curriculum.
A pilot program run by the Ministry’s Institute of Educational Policy will be implemented in 218 primary and secondary schools this year, using I Care & Act’s educational materials and valuable know-how. Virtual I Care and Act training programs are being organised for teachers in participating schools.
Desmos Vice-President, Lena Papalexopoulou, the driving force behind the program, was overjoyed I Care & Act has achieved its goals and hoped it would make a lasting impact on the next generation in Greece.
“I Care & Act has left a significant positive imprint on roughly 5 percent of the student body in Greece. Its formal recognition at an institutional level and implementation nationally can only invigorate the country’s giving mentality.” Ms Papalexopoulou says.
“The success of I Care and Act, was the result of vision and team work. We wish to thank all those involved, especially the educators, volunteers and supporters of the program. As a partner in this program, The Hellenic Initiative Australia’s contribution towards the adoption of volunteering, civic engagement and giving as a way of life by youth in Greece has been invaluable.
“The achievements of I Care & Act program give us cause for much-needed optimism.” Ms Papalexopoulou says. THI Australia has been a supporter of I Care & Act since 2017, providing a total of AU$100,000 in annual funding for the program. We look forward to working with Desmos on future programs focused on supporting Greece’s youth.