In the framework of the e-smartec project, the Region of Central Macedonia with the cooperation of the Regional Development Fund of Central Macedonia and the Institute for Sustainable Mobility and Transport Networks (HIT) of Center for Research and Technology Hellas (CERTH), organized on Wednesday, November 18, 2020 the online meeting “The way to school: A different approach". 

The meeting, addressed to principals, teachers, parents and carers of students of the primary and high schools of the Region of Central Macedonia, aimed at informing and raising awareness for the adoption of alternative forms of transportation on the students' routes to and from school. Through interactive excercises participants had the opportunity to contribute to the identification of problems, motivations and opportunities that make possible an alternative, sustainable, student-friendly way of moving to and from school.

The meeting was attended by 44 participants, including principals, teachers, parents and carers of primary and high school students from different schools from the Region of Central Macedonia. Experts on sustainable mobility and participatory planning from the e-smartec project joined, too.

How did it go

Coordinated by Dr. Maria Morfoulaki, Operational Scientist A’ HIT-CERTH and e-smartec Project Coordinator, the meeting was welcomed by the vice-Governor of Infrastructure and Networks of Region of Central Macedonia Mr. Paris Mpilias, who highlighted the fact that the Region embraces new prospects for Sustainable Mobility, as well as the creation of a friendly environment for safe and sustainable transportation.

Mr. Alexandros Koptsis, Regional Director of Education of Central Macedonia, also addressed the gathering, emphasizing the need to adopt alternative forms of eco-friendly transportation in order to reduce fuel consumption. He called attention to the important and timeless role of schools as fostering centres of traffic education and environmental awareness.

In the first section of the meeting, Ms. Anna Pouliou, representative of the Regional Development Fund, presented in detail the objectives of the e-smartec project and its actions in the Region of Central Macedonia. Both the current results of the questionnaire on school commuting and the online student competition were outlined to the audience (MORE).

External project collaboator Ms. Maria Sitzoglou then presented good practices applied in other cities of the world, proceeding to the analysis of the "Walk once a Week (WoW) challenge" implemented United Kingdom's schools. The purpose of the presentation was to properly inform and prepare the participants for the interactive exercise of the 2nd part of the meeting.

The exercise was carried out using an interactive online platform. Participants were asked to contribute through ideas, experiences and reflections to the mutual understanding of the need for programs that promote sustainable school commutes, as well as to the co-planning of the process and the multi-level cooperation required by the respective actions concerning the school community.

In the laboratory, special emphasis was given to the analysis of the roles that each involved group has during the implementation of respective actions. All participants contributed to the discussion with valuable comments and suggestions, which will be the starting point for the planning of pilot actions within the e-smartec project.

Through the laboratory, the willingness of all target groups to actively contribute to the promotion of the adoption of greener forms of movement emerged. The need for participatory planning involving all stakeholders in the implementation process was highlighted. Many teachers noted the need for schools to be guided by institutions. At the same time, the institutions emphasized the importance of the active participation of all for the successful implementation of actions. Parents highlighted the interest of the associations to take on the initiative and to actively contribute to the planning and implementation of the actions.

The laboratory ended with the contribution of Ms. Vasiliki Amprasi, representative of the PE4Trans project of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, who talked about achieving sustainable mobility through participatory planning by highlighting the importance of children - the citizens of tomorrow - in the process. 

The meeting was concluded by the speech of Dr. Konstantia Bessa, representative of Region of Central Macedonia, who pointed out that interconnected actions between institutions are necessary to ensure secure infrastructure, raise public awareness and encourage green commuting.