The beginning of our story
Everything began in 2000. A small group of friends comes face to face with an incident of abuse against a minor and while looking for a way to intervene, stumbles upon the UN International Convention on the Rights of the Child, which -8 years after its ratification by the Greek State (N2101/1992)- remained largely unknown in Greece. The group makes it their goal to make the Convention known, disseminate it and lobby so that children’s rights are respected.
Ombudsman for the Child
The above group expands and becomes the Initiative Group for Children’s Rights, which starts to take a more holistic approach with regards to these specific rights. In fact, in its first Declaration in 2001, it stresses the need for establishing an Ombudsman for the Child and begins to take relevant action. These actions bear fruit in 2003. Greece gains an Ombudsman for the Child!
The Group becomes a Network
In 2004, the Initiative Group takes legal form. With Mirsini Zorba and 79 other founding members coming from different fields (teachers, writers, artists, journalists, academics and others) the non-profit organization Network for the protection of Children’s Rights is founded. During the course of its history the organization is rebranded to Network for Children’s Rights (NCR) while many prominent personalities pass from its Board of Directors, among them Thanos Mikroutsikos, Georges Sari, Loti Petrovitch and others.
The first actions for and with children
NCR realizes its initial actions directly supporting children in 2009. It undertakes and offers services for the socialization of children living in the Shelter of Unaccompanied Minors Applying for Asylum of the Child Care Association.
Through different eyes
The catalogue Seeing the World through Different Eyes (Anatolikos editions), created by NCR in 2010, is a book/tool which, even up to this day, continues to be of use to teachers, parents and generally anyone who wishes to speak to children about diversity and their rights through literature. It includes 170 children’s books with a synopsis of their plot but also the subject/rights they discuss.
This specific catalogue is part of the publishing acts which NCR began in 2005 and continues to develop, with the aim of promoting children’s rights and nurturing a love of literature.
In the UN
In 2011 NCR is part of the relevant NGO delegation which presents itself in Geneva, before the appropriate UN committee, the Alternative Expo of NGOs for Children’s Rights in Greece (2002-2009). Since then it has actively taken a stance in every legislative initiative related to children’s rights.
Το Εργαστήρι Πολιτισμού ήταν η αρχή. Στην πορεία το Δίκτυο θα επεκταθεί σε επιπλέον χώρους για να προσφέρει σε περισσότερα παιδιά ποιοτικές δράσεις και υπηρεσίες: Κέντρο για το Παιδί (2015, Φρουραρχείο Αθηνών), Κέντρο Δημιουργικής Απασχόλησης (ΚΔΑΠ) “Το Δίκτυο στην πλατεία Τράιμπερ” (2016), Εφηβικό Δίκτυο (2017), Ομάδα Παιδικής Προστασίας – CPU (2018), “Ζήσε το Πάρκο [Αντώνης Τρίτσης]” (2021).
In 2012 NCR acquires its first workspace and names it the Culture Lab. It can be found in Alkamenous Street 11B close to Larissa Station. Before starting its operation, schools from all over the neighborhood are invited to the space and children get to express their ideas and wishes about its function mode and configuration. The first book shelves are installed for the children’s library (which today are brimming with over 8000 book titles), a piano (for education or just to play your own tune), expandable tables (for classes, handcrafts and other creative activities, which can easily be set aside to free up space for games and dance), but also games, board games, puppet shows and many others!
The Culture Lab was just the beginning. Later on, NCR will expand to other spaces in order to offer quality programs and services to even more children: Centre for the Child (2015, Athens Frourarcheio), (KDAP) Creative Centre “The Network at Traiber Square” (2016), Youth Center (2017), Child Protection Unit – CPU (2018), “Experience the Park [Antonis Tritsis]” (2021).
At NCR, we are known for our campaigns! Since 2013, NCR has instituted the organization of two campaigns aimed at raising awareness and promoting children’s rights on the occasion of the International Children’s Rights Day (November 20th) and the International Children’s Book Day (April 2nd). These campaigns take place annually and, aside from raising awareness, they encourage and facilitate collaboration between different institutions with children as their topic of action.
Member of Eurochild
NCR strongly believes in collaboration and teamwork; aiming to be part of serious collective initiatives whose goal is the promotion and protection of human rights.
One of the most important among such initiatives is the European organization Eurochild, an “umbrella” of organizations from all over Europe that stand up for children’s rights. NCR has been a part of it since 2014.
The first collaboration with an international organization
The collaboration takes place in 2016, with the international organization Save the Child International in Schisto and Hellinikon, which, during that period, are being turned into Refugee Hosting Centers. There, NCR creates a holistic programme that includes providing support services to pregnant women and mothers with infants, entertainment, cultural and pedagogical activities for children, as well as legal and psychosocial services to children and their parents.
More specifically, stemming from NCR’s actions at Schisto in 2017, the research Conditions in refugee camps: The case of Schisto, parts of which are later used as citations in a relevant research by Harvard University (Centre for Health and Human Rights).
The astoundingly successful actions of the NCR in Hellinikon and Schisto pave the path for even more stable collaborations with important organizations, such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UNICEF, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), the Open Security Foundation etc.
Our internal organization
Since 2016 NCR begins a long process of instituting/updating procedures and regulations on topics such as: Child Safeguarding Policy for children that participate in its actions, Code of Ethics, Transparency Regulations, accountability and correct governance, etc. Also instituted is the annual audit by independent auditors. Moreover, a systematic inspection of its employees is applied, aiming to support and decongest them from the stressful situations they encounter during their work.
The nominations but also the awards NCR has received for its various actions are not few. Among them are:
-The Quality Islets award that was awarded to NCR by the President of the Republic as a recognition of its efforts and its path so far
-The award given to the librarians of the NCR’s Children’s Lending Library in 2015 and in 2021, but also the nomination for the international award IBBY– Asahi Reading Promotion Award (2019), for the cultivation of love for literature and its contribution in promoting reading to children and young people who, due to their vulnerable social position, lack easy and stable access to books and libraries.
-The Innovative Tools & Pioneer Acts award, received by NCR in 2017 for its announcement Adolescents in Schisto camp: The Network for Children’s Rights experience, which took place in the 10th Intensive Seminar for Adolescent Medicine (organization: Greek Society of Adolescent Medicine and Adolescent Health Unit of the 2nd Pediatric Clinic of the Athens University).
-The award nomination in Amandus – Lillehammer International Student Festival in Norway which NCR receives in 2018 for its film Bird Song – Awaze Parandeha (Tweet), created by refugee children in the context of a stop motion animation workshop.
-The Women’s Literary Team award (Student Magazine or Journal category) in NCR’s newspaper “Migratory Birds” in 2018. The newspaper itself and the Young Journalists programme (of which it is a part) is presented as a good integration practice in the Council of Europe edition “Promoting child- friendly approaches in the area of migration: standards, guidance and current practice” (12/2019).
-The ERMIS Gold award 2018 (“Outdoors Advertisement” category) which the campaign for supporting the Children’s Library of NCR received, entitled “A book travels”, within the context of which, during the entire month of April of 2018 a train in the red metro line was transformed into a virtual library.
-But also the ERMIS 2019 award nomination for the series of tv and sound spots and posters that are created to mark the completion of 15 years since the NCR’s founding.
Our school (without borders)
Το 2016, με τα παιδιά-πρόσφυγες να βρίσκονται εντελώς αποκλεισμένα από την τυπική εκπαίδευση, το Δίκτυο, με τη συνεργασία του Δήμου Αθηναίων, διοργανώνει στο 51ο Δημοτικό Σχολείο Αθηνών το Σχολείο Δίχως Σύνορα. Εκεί συγκεντρώνονται 194 παιδιά και συμμετέχουν σε μαθήματα ελληνικών, αγγλικών, μητρικής γλώσσας καθώς και σε αθλητικές δραστηριότητες που επιμελήθηκαν 45 εθελοντές/τριες εκπαιδευτικοί του Δικτύου.
In 2016, with refugee children being completely isolated from typical education, NCR, in collaboration with the Municipality of Athens, organizes in the 51st Athens Public School the School Without Borders. There gather 194 children to participate in language classes for Greek, English, their mother tongue as well as in sport activities orchestrated by 45 of NCR’s volunteer educators.
In the eve of the 2019 municipal elections, NCR organizes a different debate. The guests are the candidate mayors of Athens and the hosts/hostesses the children, which pose and seek answers to common but also unprecedented questions. And the guests answer every single one…!
“How could children’s rights finally gain more publicity?” wondered while drinking orange juice one sunny morning of 2019 children’s books author, Antonis Papatheodoulou, and fellow children’s books author and director of NCR, Panos Christodoulou.
“Perhaps through a song? Perhaps if we sang them?”, Antonis continues to wonder and next he organizes at NCR a lyric-making workshop for children. The workshop is transformed into a panhellenic competition and finally manages to gather 284 verses written by children and inspired by the articles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Through these verses, with the assistance of beloved and prominent artists, emerge 14 wonderful songs, released in book/cd, vinyl, platforms entitled “If we sing them to you | Our rights became songs”.
In 2020 Covid enters NCR’s life, in spite of which it does not cease its function even for a minute but, on the contrary, adapts it to the new circumstances. Demonstrating substantial innovation accompanied by optimism, NCR seeks, finds and utilizes creative, innovative methods of communication and interaction with children and adolescents.
The tracing and protection of unaccompanied children
NCR partakes in the National tracing and protection mechanism for unaccompanied children in precarious conditions along with the Special Secretariat for the Protection of Unaccompanied Minors of the Ministry of Migration and Asylum, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Arsis.
The aim of the National Mechanism, created in 2021, is the protection of unaccompanied children through the provision of material and psychological support, translation, safe escort outside of Host Facilities, representation during registering by the authorities and educative activities, through mobile units, in day centers functioning in Athens and Thessaloniki.
New logo: fresh start, true to our principles!
2021 is the moment to renew NCR’s image. A new logo is created to depict with greater clarity the “being” of NCR: a happy child, of every identity, every ethnicity, every social origin, a child which NCR supports in order for it to stand firmly on his feet, a child that plays, runs, laughs.
The child shape that is distinct, borrows from the logic of the education game tangram, which is used around the globe to develop the skills, imagination and creativity of children.
In the new logo, the child’s movement is dynamic, almost as if it were jumping, preparing to embrace or it may be celebrating something “of theirs”. It is happy, expressing its joy in all the colours of the rainbow.
Exactly how we wanted and want every child to be like. And so, we continue!
Read NCR’s story in detail here!