1.What is your organization’s mission?
-At KIDS SAVE LIVES – Τα Παιδιά Σώζουν Ζωές we believe that everyone can learn first aid and save lives, even Children. The purpose of the organization is to educate children, parents, and teachers in Greek schools and to help install "Automated External Defibrillators" in all public places, so that educated children and citizens can save the lives of our fellow human beings who are in danger, earning valuable time until specialized help arrives. Especially in rural areas, where long distances are involved and access to the National Health System is not straightforward, this is extremely important.
2.Why did you start this organization? How has it grown or changed over time?
-At first, we did not know where our efforts would lead, we were just trying through our actions to find a solution to a problem. Back in 2009-2010, we sent several letters to the official bodies of the State asking for help, stating "that more human lives could be saved if everything worked as it should". To save a life we do not need to reinvent the wheel, just to follow international guidelines.
There was not a single response to this effort, no one answered! Instead of giving up, we - a handful of people - consciously decided to act by organizing missions to nearby schools and communities in the Prefecture of Halkidiki, educating and organizing them to save lives.
Over the years, the number of trainers, missions, and positive results has grown so much, that in 2015 we decided to give a name and legal status to this informal and nameless effort.
We named our effort: Humanitarian organization Kids Save Lives – Τα Παιδιά Σώζουν Ζωές, making it clear to everyone that the innovative target group we chose - the children - could change an entire country with its enthusiasm and potential.
3.What proportion of your revenue for next year will come from similar sources to this year’s revenue? Do you have plans to increase this consistency over time?
-Probably not. KIDS SAVE LIVES proudly presents itself as one of the poorest organizations - associations in the country. Its accomplishments were achieved with little money and a huge amount of personal volunteer work. The income is minimal as we offer all our programs free of charge to the Greek people. At the moment no institution, public or private has funded the organization. The only thing we ask for help with every day are "dolls", training mannequins, so we can educate children across the country.
We endured 10 years without grants and this was the most important lesson for us; if money comes, we will try to use it in a controlled way that will mainly concern the investment of knowledge through the purchase of educational materials, or the creation of a National Center for First Aid for children, which will promote volunteerism and solidarity.
It is our conscious decision, to never ask for money, only for materials without this decision slowing our growth.
4.Can you share one or two stories of individuals whose lives have been changed because of your organization?
-The life of 14-year-old Nefeli, who saved her sister's life, changed forever. One of the proudest moments in Nefeli's life will always be the rescue of her 10-year-old sister, who was pulled out from the pool of her house dead. Two months after her first-aid education at school, the teenage heroine became the first child in Greece to bring a heart attack victim back to life. I remember when I heard about it from my friend Dimitris (trainer of KSL- Rescuer EKAB Athens), I was teaching at a school in Santorini and I cried with joy because Kids Save Lives proved its worth.
Mr. Nikos, respectively, suffered a cardiac arrest in a café in Asprovalta, leaving his last breath while watching his favorite team, PAOK, on TV. 45 minutes later he came back to life, thanks to the heroic effort of two educated citizens of the community, who provided continuous high-quality Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation while giving him 9 shocks with the automated external defibrillator that the citizens of Asprovalta managed to buy after their training.
Another 20 families experienced the return to life of one of their own by our students (in collaboration with Emergency medical services 166) and hundreds of emergencies were successfully dealt with, which eventually led to our organization being awarded the Peter Basket Bursary (2018) by the European Resuscitation Council, as ERC saw that something was happening in Greece.
5.What are your goals for the next three to five years? What priorities will help you achieve them? What barriers are in your way?
-KIDS SAVE LIVES is growing and with it, we are maturing, while at the same time we are learning how to become even more useful to Greek society.
In the next few years, we want to see our course "Kids Save Lives" passed into law by the Greek Parliament, be established and become a compulsory First Aid course in the curricula of Greek schools, so students over 10 years old will be taught life skills.
Our goal is for the approval by the European Commission program "L.I.F.E. F.O.R.C.E." - an innovative program that we envisioned 8 years ago - to enter schools all over Europe in 22 months from now. We aim to educate young children under the age of 10 - through fun first-aid activities - in collaboration with excellent partners from Greece, Cyprus, Germany, and Italy.
At the same time, we want our technology-based programs to be developed and realistically help increasethesurvivalrateofpatientswithoutofhospitalcardiacarrestinGreece:
• "VR CPR" training through virtual reality devices,
• "AED MAP" free application showing the location of the nearest defibrillator available,
• "I SAVE LIVES" free application that will inform and activate trained members of the surrounding community, to deal with emergencies until the arrival of the ambulance.
Our absolute priority is the high level of services provided, and the firm belief in innovation and technology, through the offer of voluntary work by all trainers - from the oldest to the youngest!
Greece can come out of the last rankings in Europe. The biggest obstacle has been, is, and will always be some people’s obsession with the "old", with the “past”. The most difficult part of our effort is to change the mentality of the Greek people, especially those who "ought to know".
It is convenient, you know, for someone to stay put, even if they are in the last place ... We should help change that.
6.What results do your organization achieve? How has your program improved over time?
-Over the years, KIDS SAVE LIVES has become one of the most hard-working organizations in Greece. We create innovative programs one after another. We quickly grew in a number of volunteers (it is our students who decided to participate more actively) and this helped to train (in collaboration with the Hellenic Society of Emergency Prehospital Care) in just 3 years, about 10% of the Greek student population, throughout about 600 different missions to schools in Greece and the island of Imvros.
We are getting better and better, perhaps thanks to the crucial approval of our application to the European Resuscitation Council, which approved the creation of "teen educators" aged 16 and over. At the moment our organization has the youngest educators in Europe, young people with infinite abilities and tremendous will to make our country better.
7.Where is your leadership team strong, and where does it need development?
-Important leaders of the past guided and influenced the world through their personal self-sacrifice, something we see happening in KIDS SAVE LIVES – Τα Παιδιά Σώζουν Ζωές. In our organization we do not ask for anything from our volunteers, we guide them by showing them the way with important daily work from the creators of the organization. Each one of us inspires the others.
We know very well how to bring results.
Where we still need to develop, is in the part of equipping our volunteers with educational materials, as well as in the creation of a first aid training center for all the children of Greece. This is a personal dream!
8.What is the hardest decision the organization has had to make recently, and how did you evaluate the tradeoffs involved?
-Without wanting to go into details, at some point in the course of our organization, out of necessity, we applied to a rich institution for a grant for educational models.
In the discussion that followed with the agents of the institution, a proposal fell on the table that we did not agree with.
We knew that if we said “No”, it would not be a good omen and our request would probably be rejected.
We still answered honestly “No” and this answer will be one of the proudest moments in my life as president of KIDS SAVE LIVES – Τα Παιδιά Σώζουν Ζωές.
From the following day, we continued our work even more intensively. One would think that with such a project in our daily life we are happy or proud. I would say the opposite. The problems are so great that their weight crushes us. The struggle we have chosen has a significant personal cost, it stresses us, pressures us, exhausts us, makes us age prematurely.
However, many years ago we made a conscious decision, that we would solve the problems so that they would become the stepping stone that would take us to the next level. The more we deal with those problems successfully, the more KIDS SAVE LIVES – Τα Παιδιά Σώζουν Ζωές will show that, in the end, it is about much more than just a group of humanists and dreamers.
Positive results will continue to come and Greeks will continue to appreciate us, as long as our original vision, passion, and character stand the test of time.
President of KIDS SAVE LIVES–ΤΑ ΠΑΙΔΙΑ ΣΩΖΟΥΝ ΖΩΕΣ
Member of EEEPF-Board of Directors
Course Director BLS, BLS I, ILS / ERC
Course Instructor ΕRC: BLS, BLS I, ILS, ALS, GIC,
Course Instructor NAEMT: PHTLS, TFR, B-CON
Senior Instructor EMERGO TRAIN SYSTEM
Emergency Medical Services / ΕKAB Chalkidiki