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Lesvos, Grèce

Better Days, a Swiss and Greek NGO creates projects that address the ever-changing circumstances and needs of refugees and displaced communities.

Gekko Kids in Lesvos: a recognized education model praised by UNICEF and the UN Refugee Agency.

Since 2017, the Rosey Foundation has been working with Better Days to challenge existing notions of refugee school set-up and education in emergencies by designing Gekko Kids School. Rosey students were able to go to Lesvos regularly to meet the students and staff. Rosey donations have financed the installation cost, operational expenses and staff fees.

Up to the Spring of 2020, Gekko Kids provided informal, alternative education located in the center of Mytilene, equipped with modern teaching equipment in a beautiful and healing environment. The project was originally founded to support the needs of unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) housed in urban accommodations. In 2018, Gekko Kids opened its doors to refugee children aged 12-18 years old from Moria and Kara Tepe camps. To this day it has provided quality education to over 1250 refugee children of whom 80% are Unaccompanied and separated children.
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Gekko Kids’ concept:

Core Curriculum: focus on student integration into the public system with concentrations in Greek, Mathematics, Computer Programming and Literacy, Geography and English.

Parallel Program: offer access to additional courses and extra-curriculum activities such as Advanced English, Guitar, German, Arts & Crafts and Photography among others. This enables individual flourishing and provides an alternative means of learning for students who are in the process of relocation or reunification with family members in other European countries

Supportive Lessons / Tutorials: facilitate the introduction of students into the public schools system by offering a variety of supportive lessons and tutorials to address any learning gaps as the transition is challenging.

Gekko X: in a nearby facility, this new space hosts Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math subjects with focus to project based learning and experienced based approaches. It also hosts the first ever accredited course in Computers.

Trauma-aware teaching and Social Emotion Learning (SEL): Music, Art, Yoga and Photography gave become means of self-expression, therapy and trauma support. Social Emotional Learning techniques were introduced to the classroom to facilitate further work in that area and ensure teaching in a trauma aware environment at Gekko Kids and Gekko X. This entails capacity building and training, scheduling SEL activities, a child safeguarding policy and referral pathway for further support, educational referrals and so forth.
In 2019, Better Days launched its own custom-made psycho-social support (PSS) program, built around healing and trauma aware teaching. This program is aimed specifically at the students with the most urgent social and emotional needs. Within these cases, some of the most vulnerable children are offered an Individual Educational Plan (IEP). This individualized approach refers to a diverse variety of educational programs, learning experiences, instructional approaches and academic-support strategies intended to address the distinct learning needs, interests, aspirations or cultural backgrounds of individual students.

Gender Empowerment & Sports Development: they were the main area of focus in 2019. The ‘Socrates’ Sports and Development program works with male participants while over 63 female students beneficiated from the Gekko Girls Empowerment Project offering gender specific classes in swimming and cycling.

Unfortunately, in 2020, first the lockdown due to COVID-19, and later on the huge fire that destroyed all of Moria Camp put an end to the existence of Gekko Kids on the island. Better Days continue its tremendous work to help UASC both on Lesvos and on mainland Greece by providing legal aid and emergency response. Other projects are being examined and will be presented in the first half of 2021

We are very happy to announce that Gekko Kids has been shortlisted for the Global Entreps Awards:
”The Global #EntrepsAwards, the ‘Oscar Awards’ to Sustainability, reward the best practices worldwide giving birth, promoting and/or implementing: any of the 17 United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a sustainable business or industry, breakthrough digital solutions respectful to Nature and human beings, good governance and engaged citizenship, entrepreneurship, and Science respectful to Nature and human beings. There are 195 recognitions as Best Practice, one per country participating, plus 32 Global Awards for the more impactful, scalable initiatives delivering fine results.

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