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During the 2019-2020 school year, the John S. Latsis Public Benefit Foundation supported the “I Care & Act” Programme. Within the framework of the programme, many students had the opportunity to cultivate the values of volunteerism, solidarity and selfless giving through innovative experiential activities. The programme has been implemented by DESMOS and the Lambrakis Foundation, which undertook the design, development, coordination and management of the project.
The fifth and final cycle of the programme was implemented at all levels of education and in all types of schools across Greece, and it consisted in the planning and implementation of experiential learning activities by teachers and students. The programme provided teachers, students and their families with supportive educational material free of charge through the programme’s website, as well as with continuous face-to-face and remote support through training seminars.
The uniqueness and innovation of the programme lies in its empirical approach and the implementation of experiential learning as an educational method. The combination of theoretical teaching and experiential learning contributes decisively to the adoption of social contribution and volunteering as a way of life, since students get the satisfaction and feeling of capability to influence their environment positively through the activities that they themselves plan and implement. At the same time, the programme’s collaborative nature promotes the development of productive synergies through the partnership of several institutions of civil society and teaches students the value of cooperation in practice. Overall, the programme provides the young participants with appropriate stimuli and tools to become active and responsible citizens, while having the opportunity to gain new experiences and develop new skills.
During the first semester of the 2019-2020 school year, the student and teacher community developed volunteering and social contribution activities, including preparing/cooking meals and offering them to people in need, taking care of stray animals, visiting Care Centres for the Elderly and inspiriting the residents, cleaning beaches and groves, collaborating with refugee children and experiencing crosscultural interaction, etc. From March 2020 onwards, the participating school units quickly adapted to the new circumstances brought about by the coronavirus pandemic and, after the necessary adjustments were made, they continued to implement the programme remotely. During the lockdown, students sought alternative ways of social contribution and developed solidarity activities, such as supporting seniors through leisure and empowerment games via computers or smartphones, caring for stray animals nearby their place of residence, establishing a radio station, and producing information and awareness videos on the importance of contribution to society during the pandemic.
The 2019-2020 school year has been a milestone year for “I Care & Act” programme, as the merit of the latter was underlined through the “Quality Islet of Collective Action” Award, giving the programme official recognition at institutional level. In the summer of 2020, the Institute of Educational Policy of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs adopted the methodology, tools and educational material of the programme, with a view to run it as a pilot in the compulsory national curriculum beginning in the 2020-2021 school year. Now, the programme is being implemented in the context of skills development workshops, with the aim of introducing the values of volunteerism, contribution and solidarity in terms of experiential and participatory learning at school.
“The success of ‘I Care & Act’ has been a result of teamwork and collaboration. We truly thank all contributors, especially the teachers, the volunteers and the supporters of the Programme. The Latsis Foundation stands out among the latter, given that with its continuous and substantial support it has decisively contributed to the cultivation of and the familiarisation of the new generation with the values of volunteerism and active citizenship, enabling them to get acquainted with and even adopt a social contribution mindset as a way of life.”
Vice President of the Board of Directors, DESMOS