|HELMEPA, with the financial support of Lloyd's Register Foundation (LRF), conducted educational campaigns addressing the student and wider community in 24 cities and towns across Greece between 2011- 2017.
Specifically, LRF funded HELMEPA's 3-year long "Marine Environment and Science" Campaign between 2011 and 2014, which was implemented across 12 cities-areas of Greece. Taking into account the positive feedback of this Campaign, LRF funded another 3-year long program titled "Educational Community and Public Awareness Campaign on the Marine Environment, Shipping and Sciences”, which was carried out in 14 cities-areas between 2014 and 2017.
The aims of this six-year initiative were:
To inform students and Teachers about the Marine Environment, Shipping, Sciences, Engineering and New Technologies. In particular, to provide information on the themes of the Campaign in a different, "learning-by-doing", modern approach so as to inspire children to learn more about science, engineering and technology in the service of humanity and the environment.
To raise awareness among local authorities, other stakeholders and the wider society about the protection of the environment.
The activities of the Campaign in each area included the following:
Environmental Exhibition - Organized School Visits
Workshop titled "Marine Litter: a Problem Concerning Us All"
A 'train-the-trainer' Seminar for Teachers titled "The Μarine Εnvironment and Us: Ensuring a Sustainable Future"
Survey on environmental awareness of students
In each city, the Campaign was placed under the auspices of the Municipal Authorities, who supported this initiative and contributed towards projecting the aims and activities of the Campaign at the local level. Also, the visits of students at the environmental exhibition were organized in cooperation with the Directorates for Primary and Secondary Education.
24 cities/areas visited by the Campaign
1. Island of Aegina
7. Heraklion (Crete)
14. Island of Naxos
16. Island of Poros
17. Island of Rhodes
18. Island of Samos
20. Island of Skiathos
The 4 sections of Exhibition
1. The Marine World
✔ Marine Ecosystems
✔ What seas offer us
✔ Importance of the marine
environment for Greece
2. Seas and Oceans at Risk
✔ Municipal and industrial waste
✔ Agricultural waste
✔ Overfishing - Invasive species
✔ Climate change
3. The Unexplored Ocean
✔ Marine stratification
✔ Exploring the depths of the ocean
✔ Technical means of marine
✔ Shipping and global economy
✔ Main parts of a vessel
✔ Types of vessels
✔ Shipbuilding and Mechanical
✔ Future vessels
✔ Marine pollution prevention
The Campaign operated for a total of 379 days in the 24 cities-areas and the Environmental Exhibition was visited by:
. 26,689 schoolchildren from 497 Schools
(17,794 from Primary Schools and 8,894 from Secondary Schools)
. 1,931 teachers
Workshop titled "Marine Litter: a problem that concerns us all"
During the first three years of the Campaign, a workshop titled "Marine Litter: a problem that concerns us all" was held in each city, with a total of 1,200 representatives of public and private stakeholders. During each workshop, information was provided on marine litter in Greece and globally, local stakeholders presented problems in their area and discussions followed in pursuit of feasible solutions to these problems. The common conclusions reached at the 12 Workshops were that marine litter:
. Constitutes a serious environmental problem in each city and become more intense in areas full of urban and industrial waste.
. They can be detected on shores mainly due to ignorance, negligence and lack of control, for example, plastic and debris.
. They can even be found at the bottom of the sea due to illegal disposal of waste.
Seminar titled "The marine environment and us: ensuring a sustainable future"
10 seminars under the title: "The marine environment and us: ensuring a sustainable future", were held during the next three years of the Campaign. The aim of the Seminar was to inform participating teachers about the recent developments on the themes of the Campaign, as well as to provide information on current environmental challenges that humanity is facing, such as climate change and marine litter pollution. The Seminar was attended by 400 teachers, 335 of which became members of the "Marine Teachers" network. These members have access to an exclusive web site which includes references and supportive educational material that can be used in order to enhance their students' awareness, while acquiring, at the same time, regular updates on scientific developments, relevant to the Campaign's themes.
Among the above, during the operation of the Campaign in each city, some other environmental and educational activities took place, such as voluntary beach and underwater cleanups, student visits to respective Port Authorities, Environmental Education Centers and Member Companies, educational guided tours in Protected Areas, recycling etc.
Survey on environmental awareness of students
The survey concerning the environmental awareness of students who visited the Exhibition led to the following:
- The most serious environmental problem for students is litter pollution of streets and beaches in their area.
- Eight out of ten High School students consider their duty to protect the environment and at the same time reprimand those polluting it
- Two out of three students have taken part in some kind of environmental activity such as beach cleanups, tree planting ect.
- Nine of ten students recycle
The impact of the Campaign on educational and local community
As a follow-up of the Campaign and the educational activities that took place in each area, students, teachers as well as the wider public, were motivated in a variety of ways, such as the following:
- 210 beach cleanups by 7,661 volunteers
- 11,500 new student-members of HELMEPA Junior Program
- 8,000 activities by these new members
In addition, after the closure of the Campaign, the teachers noted that:
- Their interest in environmental issues was enhanced
- One out of two signed up either in HELMEPA Junior or HELMEPA Cadets Programs
- Three out of four would prefer students to be informed more on shipping, sciences and engineering
- Four out of five organized a voluntary cleanup or another activity with their students.
Finally, local authorities that contributed to the implementation of the Campaign and/or participated in the activities stated the following:
- 93%: The Campaign contributed to informing the local community about environmental issues.
- 98%: Kids’ environmental activities contribute to raising awareness in local communities
- 86%: More information and actions are needed
- Everyone: Organizing similar activities more often is rather useful
HELMEPA would like to thank all the students, teachers, Municipal Authorities, Educational Directories, organizations, stakeholders and the wider public for their warm response to the Campaign’s messages, which fills us with hope for a better future, while respecting our valuable natural environment.