The Network for Children’s Rights acquired non-profit organisation status in 2004, but actually began as an informal action group four years earlier with the aim of raising awareness of problems relating to the righs of children and interceding in order to solve them. It encourages initiatives and actions to ensure that the UN International Convention on the Rights of the Child is implemented in Greece, to guarantee respect for diversity and to put an end to discrimination. Its members are teachers, parents, university lecturers, authors, artists and children who work on a voluntary basis both within and outside the school community. They carry out surveys, campaigns and programmes.
In recent years, the “Network for Children’s Rights” has completed six major projects:
1. From 2005 to 2009 it promoted chldren’s rights within the school community by organising meetings and seminars for teachers and parents, encouraging children to read, arranging meetings with children’s authors, and implementing educational programmes that fostered dialogue, diversity and creativity as a means of fighting discrimination and bullying in schools.
2. During 2009 and 2010 it supported under-age asylum-seekers through an educational and cultural programme that included the teaching of English and Greek, socialisation, vocational training and the provision of psychological, medical and material support.
3 During 2010 and 2011 it offered assistance to more than one hundred families with children residing in «Samaria», an Afghan community centre in the Metaxourgeio area of Athens. The programme included English and Greek lessons for adults and older children, creative pastimes for younger children, psychological support, distribution of clothing and other basic needs, vaccinations, medical welfare, check-ups, and the organisation of recreational and educational events.
4 Since 2012, the «Culture Lab» for children has been operating at 11 Alkamenous Street, close to Larissa Railway Station. It is open weekdays from 9am to 7.30pm and on occasional weekends. It caters to all children without discrimination, regardless of race, gender, nationality, religion or language. It is used by parents and children, the majority immigrants or refugees, who between them speak 27 different languages,. The «Culture Lab» houses a large children’s lending library which also contains board games and is equipped with computers, tablets and an interactive whiteboard. The daily schedule includes educational programmes for local schools, creative groups, learning support, reading groups, artistic activities, web-radio and more. There are seminars for parents, there is free legal, social, psychological and material support for the children’s families, food is distributed and recreational and educational visits arranged. The «Culture Lab» operates thanks to the support and daily presence of the Network’s volunteers, who number close to 100.
5 At the end of 2014 the Network’s «Centre for the Child» began to operate as part the Solidarity Centre, housed in the old garrison headquarters of the Municipality of Athens (First floor, 2 Domokou St, opposite Larissa Railway Station). The Centre is open from 9am to 9pm and has an onsite educationist, social worker and psychologist. It is also an open space for creative and educational activities, set up with the support of Solidarity Now and EEA Grants, and entry is free. The weekly programme includes experiential and interactive activities for parents and children: Educational/Creative groups for pre-school children * Educational/creative progammes for schoolchildren *Learning support for schoolchildren *Collective psychological support for children *Paediatric advice for parents and chldren *Provision of social services (referals, communication and intervention by other institutions for social support) * Greek and Arabic language groups * Meetings with educationists about school-related matters * Discussions with specialists (paediatricians, gynaecologists, educationists etc) * Public debates about the rights of children * Donation of food and clothing to needy families. In collaboration and conjunction with state and local government services as well as other non-profit organisations, the Network offers information, encouragement and support for the specific needs of any given child. As a member of the Solidarity Centre, it works first and foremost with fellow members Arsis (legal services), Praxis (medical services) and Mazi gia to Paidi (counselling for parents and children)
6 At the end of 2015 the Network opened its third centre in the same area around Larissa Railway Station. Known as «The Network at Traiber» (8 Traiber Square) it houses part of the lending library and is used by pre-school and primary school children for various activities. Events and programmes relating to the Network’s campaigns take place there, as do summer programmes, reading groups etc. The opening of «The Network at Traiber» was a major step towards the establishment of a network of cultural cells and community centres in the less fortunate boroughs of Athens, which operate every weekday and occasionally at weekends when necessary. The aim is to create a flexible and complementary socio-cultural network which can respond to the specific needs of children and their families at any given time. It allows for growth without creating an excessively large centre and gives each component relative autonomy and its own separate focus (in relation to population, age-groups, gender, activities etc). As a result, the cultural diversity of the centre of Athens is given the opportunity to surface and find expression, the apathy that one often finds in “deprived” areas is reversed and common initiatives are undertaken at local level without discrimination of any kind. This in turn leads to positive coexistence, integration and creativity on the part of children and young people.
Since its founding, the «Network» has undertaken various actions and campaigns in order to *disseminate and uphold the UN Conventions on the Rights of the Child * inform children themselves about the institutions that exist for their protection at national, European and international lovel *support families on the poverty threshold *mobilise society to fight all forms of discrimination *provide quality education *encourage ethnically or socially excluded groups to access education *fight against child labour * highlight problems faced by children from vulnerable groups such as children of immigrants, refugees or repatriates, sick children, children in care or young offenders institutions.* make society aware of all forms of violence, insult, abandonment, neglect, abuse, maltreatment and exploitation of minors *limit smoking, alcohol intake and substance abuse by children *create a safe internet. It cooperates with international bodies and other organisations and associations in Greece and Europe, it organises two campaigns each year, brings out publications, awards pupils for their initiatives, offers both material and moral support to vulnerable groups of minors and their families, organises seminars for teachers and parents, trains volunteers and encourages socialisation through various activities.
The Network is funded exclusively by contributions and sponsorships of its members and supporters, and by acts of social sensitivity. Every sponsorship is mentioned on our website and announced to our twelve thousand Friends.