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Children speak, are the grown-ups listening?

Children aged between 6 and 13 years old, formed once again the Board of Representatives of
HELMEPA Junior that met in Athens on Friday the 19th of March. Leaders of the most active groups
from Arriana of Rodopi, Vagia of Viotia, Volos, Gargalianoi of Messinia, Exaplatanos of Pella,
Zakynthos Island, Heraklion of Crete, Kalymnos Island, Saronida of Attica, Rethymno of Crete, Syros
Island and Chios Island, represented the 4,000 members of HELMEPA Junior, who voluntary took
action in the protection of the environment during the last school year.

The meeting of the little pupils took place at HELMEPA's Environmental Exhibition which is situated
in the building of the member company COSTAMARE. The children, after exchanging their
experiences and opinions regarding various environmental problems, they voted for and elected the
new presiding board as follows: Katerina Poniri, 10 years old from Kalymnos as President, Selma
Derdiman, 12 years old from Arriana as Vice President and Panagiotis Xydias, 12 years old from
Saronida as Secretary.

At the same time, parents, volunteer Teachers and Persons in Charge for the Environmental
Education in the areas where the Program operated, had the chance to be informed about the
program’s progress at a special event hosted by the Chairman of HELMEPA, Captain Vassilis C.
Constantakopoulos. A great supporter of HELMEPA Junior from the time of its establishment in 1993,
Captain Vassilis welcomed the guests and shared with them his experiences from his communication
with children and his thoughts about the responsibilities of the grown-ups for their future.

Present at the event was also the Golden Olympic Medalist in sailing, Sofia Bekatorou, who, in her
short salutation, referred to the reasons for her willing to act voluntarily and without profit in spreading
HELMEPA's messages. Her way of life and her love for sailing, she said, made her deeply aware for
the necessity of protecting the marine environment.

Addressed to the attendees, the Secretary General of Youth, Yiannos Livanos, expressed his
satisfaction in participating to the event and his willingness in future cooperation between the General
Secretariat for Youth and HELMEPA Cadets.

Representing the Prime Minister Mr. George Papandreou, Mrs Antigoni Karali-Dimitriadis, in Charge
for the communication between Citizens and the Prime Minister's office and Vice President of the
Women's Socialist International, gave a warm message of support. Mrs Dimitriadis mentioned that a
number of the messages that reach daily the office of the Prime Minister are those who are interfaced
with passion concerning the environment. She also mentioned that information leads to
environmental awareness and this in turn leads to active Citizens. Finally, she expressed the Prime
Minister's congratulations and his full support to the little volunteers' efforts to which he remains open
to proposals for cooperation in order to aid them further.

Christiana Prekezes, head of HELMEPA's Maritime Sector, who coordinated the event, did an
overview of the actions of the HELMEPA Junior member children in various areas of Greece. Finally,
she wished that parents and teachers continue to urge little children to act for a better environment
also for the next year, especially taking into consideration that 2010 is the International Year of

Finally, Sotiris Kopatsaris, a 16 year-old, HELMEPA Cadet from Santorini, ex Chairman of HELMEPA
Junior's Board of Representatives, presented his work upon Climate Change, a new major challenge
that our Planet faces today and its consequences. He spoke about this issue with great ease and
passion, earning the warm applause of the audience. He said that, he owes his interest for the
environment to his participation in HELMEPA Junior, as this initiative enables children to participate
actively in the protection of the environment.
The children of the Board closed the Event with originality, by using mantinades, songs, simple words
and their main message: "We, the children, protect the environment, but we also need your help!"

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