The driving force behind Desmos has always been to make giving as simple and as efficient as possible, so that anyone who wants to help, CAN actually do so. We have come to realize, however, that inspiring giving as a way of life is equally important as facilitating giving for those who already are or want to be donors. We immediately felt the responsibility to contribute to the cultivation of a culture of giving in Greece, to help create a collective mentality of civic engagement, particularly through the education of the younger generations.
With the mission to inspire giving in the younger generations, in 2015 we designed and launched the innovative educational program “I Care & Act” that, in three years, has reached more than 36,500 students everywhere in Greece.
This program aims to provide answers to essential questions on education and democracy: How can we help children learn what empathy and solidarity are really about? How can we best support them to become today, the active citizens we dream our world will have tomorrow? How can we create sustainable ecosystems of giving and bring about long-lasting change?
According to data of the World Giving Index 2017, published by the Charities Aid Foundation, Greece is among the last countries worldwide in citizen volunteering. The conditions prevailing in Greece over the past years, particularly after the refugee crisis, have raised awareness and motivation among a part of the population, which is encouraging, but a permeating culture of active citizenship has has still a long way to go. That is why “I Care & Act” is absolutely necessary: it is the only educational program in Greece, approved by the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, that exclusively discusses the notions of volunteerism, active citizenship, and solidarity.
”I Care & Act” is a complete educational program for students of all ages, with original educational material for teachers and students (especially developed to be adjustable for every school type or grade, across subjects), and an innovative teaching methodology: it literally guides teachers and students to create volunteer and active citizenships experiences inside and outside of the classroom.
"Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand." - Chinese proverb
What is unique about this program is that it creates space in the classroom for an exploration of a wide range of issues, challenges and ideas. Through exercises and guided discussion, students are encouraged to identify what they care about in their school, local, or national community and why. Having done that, they prioritize and decide on a course of action: they create projects to solve problems and contribute to the public dialogue, engage their schools, families and local communities and focus on the aftermath of each of their activities, focusing on debriefing and evaluation that will help them better understand how they will bring about lasting positive change.
“I Care & Act”, true to our values of inclusiveness, synergies and passion, helps create connections between the traditionally introvert and restrictive school communities and civic society at large, i.e. local authorities, other schools and of course NGOs and volunteer initiatives. Bearing in mind the financial difficulties schools and families across Greece are facing, we make sure we cover the expenses of volunteer activities and visits organized in the framework of “I Care & Act”, so that all students have the opportunity to participate and organize activities outside their classrooms and schools.
The students’ projects are numerous and diverse: from big-scale calls to action in their local communities such as blood donations and collection drives supporting vulnerable social groups, awareness campaigns about causes such as stray animals, environmental issues or accessibility for people with disabilities, to setting up soup kitchens and fundraising events for hospitals, NGO’s and shelters, and even long-term projects such as up-keeping and creative re-envisioning of public spaces and improving and artistically decorating school facilities, this program has it all. You name a cause and a group of children has already done something to help!
“Thank you for reminding me that I can change the world!”, Lamprini Grigori, Teacher from Astypalaia Primary/High-School
After three years of implementation we are proud to say that “I Care & Act” has indeed created a culture of active citizenship in every school it has touched! This belief is being supported by the overwhelmingly positive response from teachers, students and local communities but also the feedback we have received from three annual external evaluations by the University of the Peloponnese, which confirms that students participating in the program have demonstrated a shift in mentality and way of life. At the same time the program has been distinguished for creating meaningful bridges between school communities and society at large by the Education in Business Awards (Connecting with Society) and the Bravo Sustainability Awards of the Quality Net Foundation, while numerous student initiatives under “I Care & Act” have been acknowledged with distinctions in school and national competitions.
Are you as excited about this program as we are? You can help!