Schoolchildren, parents, teachers and Coordinators for School Activities from all over Greece, together with HELMEPA’s Chairman, Board Members and staff celebrated the 20th anniversary of the “HELMEPA Junior” program, on Friday 13 December, in Athens.
The event took place in the framework of the program’s 20th Board of Representatives, which as in previous years, was hosted by associate member Costamare Shipping.
The fifteen children-members of the Board, between 5 and 13 years old, representing the 5, 900 children-members of the previous school year, elected Sofia Ekatommati (10 years old) from the island of Chios as their Chairperson, Konstantinos Chamos (12 years old) from Alexandroupolis as their Vice-Chairman and Krystallia-Stephanie Tsitra (6 years old) from Pelion in Thessaly as their Secretary.
The Junior Board members shared their experiences, discussed ideas and sent the following message to the adults’ society:
“Help us clean-up all the beaches and we will reward you with some important advice: children and adults of all ages, let’s join forces and clean-up our act.
Why don’t all of you, who have the power, help us save our planet?”
In parallel to the children’s meeting, adult guests participated in a special informative event. Welcoming the participants, HELMEPA’s Chairman Dr. John Coustas noted that the program has developed into one of the most important activities of the Association, as the environmental awareness of children constitutes the best investment for the future. He went on to stress the Board’s commitment to continue supporting the program’s implementation and thanked teachers and parents for their support to the children’s efforts.
In his address, Mr. Achilleas Constantakopoulos, son of the late Captain Vassilis, highlighted the importance of informing kids about environmental protection, stressed the special affection and sensitivity of his Father, his family and the Costamare company towards the work of “HELMEPA Junior” and congratulated teachers and parents for their children’s activities.
The 20-year long evolution of the program was presented by the Director General of HELMEPA, Mr. Dimitris Mitsatsos making reference to the landmarks in this process. Indicative activities from the past school year were presented by Ms. M. Ktistaki of the Environmental Awareness Section, while the former HELMEPA staff member Mrs. Ypatia Mitsatsou-Aravantinou, who had the idea to create “HELMEPA Junior”, spoke about the beginning of the program in 1993 and encouraged parents and teachers to continue standing-by the children in their voluntary endeavors.
The event was also saluted by the Chairman of the Ukranian sister association UKRMEPA, Mr. Igor Karpenko, who wholeheartedly thanked HELMEPA for the hospitality and support mentioning that his aim is to implement in his country similar to HELMEPA environmental awareness raising programs for pupils as well as seafarers.
While presenting the wide variety of activities carried out by HELMEPA Junior members from the Kindergarten of Klimatia in the mountainous region of Ioannina, their volunteer teacher, Ms. Maria Topoliati made reference to the recently instituted “forest kindergarten” and the particular characteristics of its operation.
Following, HELMEPA Board Member, Captain Iakovos Perantinos took the floor to stress that with such a wealth of activities by young volunteers there is definitely hope for our seas and the environment and thanked parents and teachers for the support they provide to their children, who are entitled, as he said, to demand a cleaner world.
The event came to a close with the awarding of commemorative diplomas and gifts to children and adults. During a buffet lunch kindly offered by Costamare, HELMEPA’s Board and staff members had the opportunity to discuss the proposals of teachers and parents regarding the expansion of the program and its activities.
For the association’s guests, both kids and adults, HELMEPA organized a visit to the Evgenides Planetarium, where they watched a digital projection titled “Evolution”.