Athens Open Schools program helps raise environmental awareness


31/5/2018 | Xinhua Net

by Natasha Pavlopoulou

ATHENS, May 31 (Xinhua) -- Five o'clock Wednesday afternoon, which should have been a tranquil after-school hour in Athens, the 104th Elementary School in the downtown of the Greek capital was yet cheerful and boisterous.

Thanks to the Athens Open Schools program, an initiative by the City of Athens with an aim of running activities within the school premises in after-school hours, the Upcycled Percussions Team, a three-member band, can make their final rehearsal here on the eve of the great celebration for the end of the school year.

Initiating a project titled "A fantastic journey into the world of percussion ... from recyclable materials", the band of young musicians aims to promote their ideas of making instruments from the wastes, such as used pots, buckets, cans and pans via a dynamic musical show.

"Our initial thought was to create a band with unusual items that had to do with recycling. We are trying to give another life to things that we would otherwise throw away, to cultivate children's imagination and encourage them to upcycle and reuse objects," Dimitris Christodoulakis, founding member of the band along Nikos Alexopoulos and Christos Papadopoulos, told Xinhua.

"We supply the materials from packing warehouses, from street vendors, and we also encourage children to bring materials they do not use at home," said another band member Alexopoulos.

The young people's efforts were supported by the Athens Open Schools, which makes it possible for them to stay in school to conduct their activities after school hours.

Exclusively funded by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation and coordinated by the nonprofit organization Athens Partnership, the program piloted in 2015 and was quickly embraced by the local communities.

And the coordinator of program also applauded the young people's project.

"Recycling in Greece is extremely low - estimated at 16 percent of total waste, compared to 28 percent for the EU average, while 80 percent of waste is deposited in landfills," Alexandros Kambouroglou, Executive Director of the Athens Partnership, coordinator of Athens Open Schools, said to Xinhua.

"We will need more innovative actions like Upcycled Percussions, if we are to reach the EU's binding target to reduce landfill to a maximum of 10 percent of municipal waste by 2030," he stressed.

There are also other actions related to recycling and reuse, hosted by the Open Schools program such as the Creative workshop for young manufacturers, an activity for children aged 6-12 years old which invites them to process old toys, make their own musical instruments, bird nests, pots, masks, carnival hats and more, while understanding the importance of recycling and discovering their inner creativity.

"I am very proud to see that the younger generation of children is helping to break old 'bad habits' by developing environmental awareness," the City of Athens Vice Mayor for the Child Maria Iliopoulou said.