TOPAZ Issue 7 / 2003
A gallery of personal portraits
To carry forth the Olympic Spirit
Personal development
Film prompters
Healing - its inside the value and purpose of life
Research and discoveries in the garden
Drawing - the unseen hand
Children with ADHD win confidence
A new and original colour combination for ADHD schools
Colour Curios

To carry forth the Olympic Spirit - Olympic truce promotes peace to all nations

In ancient Greece all the city states would maintain a truce for the period of the Olympic Games, and this was a sacred principle for them. Many hundreds of years later, in our world today, the International Olympic Committee has declared that one of the essential principles of the Olympic spirit is ‘to revive the ancient idea of the Olympic Truce, with the goal of promoting a more peaceful global society, with concern for the preservation of human dignity’.
In 2004 the Olympic Games will be taking place in Greece, the land where they originated. Theodora Papanastassatou has recognised this event as an opportunity to promote this principle of truce and peace and encourage a greater dialogue and friendship between nations and civilisations. Theodora teaches literature at the Perachora-Louthraki High School and has begun a project for schoolchildren, based on the colours of the Olympic Rings. Topaz interviewed Theodora to learn more about this project.

Topaz: How did this project begin?
Theodora: Sometimes, by keeping it simple, a great many things can happen. I try to be a teacher who provides an opportunity for the next generation to reach above the ordinary, to find the real values of human life, and I believe that these young people need to be presented with a few simple, true codings, which they can then take and use their natural abilities to produce wonderful things.
In this project we have combined the colour codings with values that are core to human life. Colour is everywhere in nature, it is attractive to people and it is unifiying, A Greek person will see the same colour blue as a Chinese, while core values maintain the connective tissue of the human race throughout the ages. These colour codings and values come together in the 5 rings of the Olympic emblem.

When I presented this idea to my fellow teachers and students here, they loved it, and we formed up a proposal to do with Olympic Education, which was presented to the Ministry of Education and approved in December last year.
The value connected with each colour was the principle of TRUCE with the blue ring, with the black ring the state of global PEACE (white in this project), with the red ring the quality of FAIR PLAY, with the yellow ring the value of FRIENDSHIP between people of different origins, and the green ring the proposition of PARTICIPATION.

Blue ring: the principle of TRUCE;

Black ring: the state of global PEACE;

Red ring: FAIR PLAY;

Yellow ring: the value of FRIENDSHIP between people of different origins;

Green ring: the proposition of PARTICIPATION.

Topaz: Why is the project supported by the Ministry of Education?
Theodora: The Ministry offered to sponsor projects around Olympic ideals, and invited schools to participate. We chose the area of Truce and Peace as we see that this is something that our world needs more and more. Our young people have a great deal to say about this, the world of tomorrow will belong to them, and they deserve the best chance. Two junior schools and two high schools in our area are participating in the project, involving 600 children, with 200 students working weekly on the project. They have surprised us with the quality of the notions, poems, paintings, drawings and essays they have produced and their deep feelings about these issues. For example Joanna, age 14, wrote, ‘Peace is a flame burning inside each human and we need to stand for it to keep it alive’.

Topaz: What activities do you do as part of the project?
Theodora: A whole multitude of things. We study other civilisations and, for example, one class is painting the flags of other nations. Another class is researching the art events of the modern Olympics, while another spends time investigating ancient artefacts that show athletic activities. We have organised in March a running event for all the young people in the area in the spirit of fair play, more than 200 came to run and 100 to watch. At the end three girls from the High School held hands as they decided to finish together and demonstrate a love of participation above a desire to be first or second. We have made T-shirts showing the five colours and the associated values. With 400 children we visited the local site of Heraio, a temple that dates back to the 8th century BC, and we have also visited the ancient site of Olympia, exploring, photographing and discovering.

At the end of May we will be holding a live exhibition to present the results of the activities. A display of the five colours will be presented on stage with PEACE as its central theme emanating from a white cone in the centre with the other 4 colours supporting it. On the same day we will show on screen the various activities of the four schools during the year, from a CD-Rom. The exhibition will stay open for other schools and the public to attend.

Topaz: Can schools abroad join this project or get in touch with you about this?
Theodora: We welcome exchanges with other schools and organisations. We are already in contact with some schools as we would like to form a network of young people who can communicate with each other about these values; by making a friend in Germany or in Australia and finding out about the traditions and ways in these countries, our young can experience the value of understanding another for real, they can experience the value of dialogue and the message about truce and peace can transfer between the young and into the local societies in which they live. We intend to send to schools abroad material about the Olympic ideals, posters and photos from our current activities, and they can send photos of their activities to us.

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