1995-2021: In its 25 years of operation “The Smile of the Child” supported 268.979 children and their families in addressing their health needs
“The Smile of the Child” celebrated its 25 years of health services and actions during an event held at the Zappeion Megaron in Athens on Thursday, 16 September, honored by the participation of the entire leadership of the Μinistry of Health.
The event was attended by the Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, Mrs. Domna Michaelidou, representing the Greek government, the Minister of Health, Mr. Athanasios Plevris, the Deputy Minister of Health, Mrs. Mina Gaga, the Deputy Minister of Health, Mrs. Zoe Rapti, the Secretary General of the Ministry of Health, Mr. Marios Themistokleous, and the Secretary General for Social Solidarity & the Fight against Poverty, Mr. George Stamatis. Other authorities, supporters, friends, and the entire medical team of the Organization from all over Greece also attended the event. The journalist Fotini Georgiou acted as the event host.
The event was prefaced by the Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, Mrs. Domna Michaelidou, stating: “With “The Smile of the Child ” we share a common vision! We want all children in our country to find their own family and grow up in a safe environment so that they can reach their highest potential. The Ministry of Labor and I will personally support your every initiative that serves our common goals.”
A short greeting was addressed by the Minister of Health, Mr. Athanasios Plevris, emphasizing: “Whatever the state does to support “The Smile of the Child” will never prove enough. You turned your personal and family pain into a creative warm offering for the most sensitive, precious and vulnerable segment of our population, our children in need. Your contribution over the last 25 years is beyond any imagination; numerous health and care services provided with quality, dignity and dedication, for tens of thousands of children who found a hug in your Organization, with the kind support of your volunteers and partners. The Μinistry of Health will decisively offer its support to “The Smile of the Child”. Many congratulations on your work and best wishes for the 25 years of the Organization!”
The Deputy Minister of Health, Ms Mina Gaga, noted: “The Smile of the Child has really managed in the 25 years of its operation to leave a very strong and at the same time creative and meaningful imprint on the support of unprotected children and their families. Our gratitude is not enough, but the obligation of the state to offer support in your initiatives and actions is self-evident, imperative and we must strengthen it in every way. We will be aiding your efforts and we are committed to protecting your every creative initiative to best address issues that concern our children in need.”
In turn, the Deputy Minister of Health, Ms. Zoe Rapti, pointed out: “We are here today to honor the valuable contribution of the Organization over the last 25 years, provision of care and support of vulnerable children and their families, who face poverty as well as threats to life and health. Ensuring the physical and mental health of our children and adolescents is our main priority, as it is the basis for a healthy future of ourselves and our country. We plan to extend our collaboration with ”The Smile of the Child” to other areas beyond our cooperation by interconnecting the SOS1056 Helpline with the State Line 10306 and the Day Center at Zografou addressed to children and adolescents.”
The Secretary General of the Ministry of Health, Mr. Marios Themistokleous, stressed: “The Smile of the Child” over time stands next to every child in need with high quality initiatives and services. Also, in addition to the lifelong support to the Ministry of Health with prevention actions throughout the country and health services for each child, the Organization strengthened the “Freedom” campaign with vaccinations on the islands of our country. Our good cooperation continues and we are very happy to keep supporting your work.”
The Secretary General for Social Solidarity & the Fight Against Poverty, Mr. George Stamatis, stated: “The vision of Andreas Yannopoulos continues to inspire those who give hope to children with care, equality and dignity. “The Smile of the Child” sets prevention as an imperative moral duty and stands as an aid to underprivileged children who experience social exclusion or live in remote areas. Through mobile polyclinics the Organization reaches all those children who need medical supervision and care.”
The President of the Board of the Organization “The Smile of the Child”, Mr. Costas Yannopoulos, presented the specialized health initiatives of the Organization stating: “Today we are here thanks to my son Andreas, through whom I experienced the challenges that every child with a health problem and his family goes through. I cherish the loving memory of Andreas who passed away; however, thousands of children have been saved through our Organization’s network of services. For 25 years, nationwide, on a daily basis, we have supported 268.979 children and their families, working closely with the competent bodies. It is a great pleasure that today we have with us the entire leadership of the Ministry of Health. In 25 years of action we feel proud because we support children, we serve the value of life every day and especially in these critical days of the pandemic we serve the National Health System so that all children gain access to health services. I am proud of the team of Health Professionals of our Organization, a team that exceeds 60 people all over Greece. We wholeheartedly thank the Papapostolou family and the company of Papapostolou Healthcare Technologies, who once again supported “The Smile of the Child”, proceeding to the sponsorship of state-of-the-art medical equipment of the company WEINMANN. The equipment has already been installed and is in full operation in the medical units of our Organization.”
The family of the late Christos Ressos received the “Andreas Yannopoulos Award”. Mr. Yannopoulos commented: “Christos Ressos served as President of the Board of the National Emergency Aid Center (EKAV) from 2002 to 2004. He was a humble visionary with great ideas, who left his imprint indelible in the Public Health System as a pioneer always on the front line as well as in EKAV. To us he was a valuable supporter, thanks to whom the Organization collaborated with EKAV, with such significant benefits for newborns and children in our country.”
During the event, the attendees listened to the emotional personal story shared by 30-year-old Yannis. In 1999 John was diagnosed with a severe illness and had to be transferred abroad for treatment at the age of 8, facing a dire diagnosis. “The Smile of the Child” offered to help the family by covering the cost of treatment and offering the family its support. He stated: “Also on behalf of my parents I would like to extend my gratitude to Mr. Costas Yannopoulos, without whom I would not have made it and would not be here today. Hope should never be taken away from children. As long as “The Smile of the Child” exists and operates, there will be hope for all children suffering from severe health problems.”
Everything was made possible thanks to the collaboration with the authorities; the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, Public Hospitals and Health Centers, the Government, Medical and Dental Associations, the National Blood Donation Center, the National Emergency Aid Center-EKAV, etc. The indispensable participation of thousands of volunteers, as well as the valuable support and donations of numerous companies and individuals was an integral part of this success.
In brief, the work of the Organization is depicted in the following points.
In its 25 years of operation “The Smile of the Child” offered personalized and holistic health services support to 268.979 children and their families.
● Since 2002, as part of its Preventive Medicine program, the Organization has provided free examinations to 144.584 children throughout Greece with 3 specialized mobile units of Preventive Medicine and Dentistry.
● Since 1999, “The Smile of the Child” has supported 85.213 children through its Creative Engagement program in hospitals in Athens, Thessaloniki and Patras thanks to the support of volunteers.
● Since 1997, as part of its Medical Transport program, it has served 25.426 newborns and children thanks to state-of-the-art Mobile Medical Intensive Care Units for Neonatal and Children’s Treatment in collaboration with the National Emergency Aid Center (EKAV).
● Since 2017, it has supported 1.296 children in Athens and Thessaloniki through the Pediatric Home Care program for children with serious and chronic health problems.
● Since 2016, it has provided Hospitality to 15 families with children facing health problems in apartments in Athens and Thessaloniki.
● Since 1995, it has supported 12,035 children through Social and Counseling services, such as the coverage of medical supplies, medical examinations, the mobilization of voluntary blood and platelet donors.
● As of 2019, it has supported 410 children by providing them with medical, dental examinations, medical monitoring, etc. through the two Social Polyclinics, operating in Athens.
● Since 2020, responding to the increased needs caused by the pandemic, the Organbization administers Voluntary Blood Donation programs nationwide. To date, the program has collected 1.643 blood bag donations in 32 cities.
The event was organized by the “Papapostolou Healthcare Technologies” Co. “The Smile of the Child” would also like to warmly thank all partners who contributed to this event.
Video available here