Last Friday, I had the privilege to attend a very special event at St. Sophia Children’s Hospital in Athens, Greece. Along with Microsoft Greece, Intel, and the Greek Ministry of Education, we donated ten Classmate PCs to the hospital. These Classmate PCs are for the first time fully localized in Greek, and are high-quality and affordable laptops for teaching kids in this environment. The goal is for these computers to facilitate the learning process at the hospital’s school, to allow for greater teaching flexibility, and to enable the children treated at the hospital to continue their lessons throughout their hospitalization.
Marianthi Papadimitriou, the head teacher at the hospital, has a Ph.D. focusing on technology in education. She gave us a very informative and enthusiastic presentation.
She included a short history of the hospital and the hospital’s school. The hospital is the largest for children in Greece, and the school was founded in 1989, having served over 5,000 children already. The average stay in the hospital for a child is 10 days, and they teach around 330 children per year.
Marianthi presented two demonstrations of lessons she had developed in Excel; one for learning multiplication, and the other for spelling. She also provided some great examples of the work that some of the students had already done in PowerPoint. One of her most interesting points was how technology was an enabler not only for learning, but also in building confidence for these very sick children.
She shared two stories with us; the first was of a young Gypsy boy—a minority group in Greece, who typically don’t send their children to school or have easy access to education. While he was a patient in the hospital, she used technology to teach the boy about the origins of his culture, using examples of gypsy music, history and language – by teaching through PowerPoint in both Greek and Gypsy. The second example she related was about a boy who had a brain tumor that affected his fine motor skills to the point that he could no longer write properly. He was incredibly frustrated and angry with his disability. But through the aid of a laptop, he was able to rebuild his confidence and write to his classmates.
We hope that the Classmate PCs donated here today will enable dozens more stories like these to be possible at St. Sophia’s over the coming years. It’s moving and amazing to see the real impact that technology is having on the education and lives of these children, who are isolated from their classmates and face very real challenges in accessing educational opportunities.
It’s all a great example of Unlimited Potential’s commitment to providing all children, wherever they may be, with the opportunity to learn—and through technology tools like the Classmate PC. We’re focused on working with our thousands of partners around the world in transforming the educational process for children everywhere. Every activity like this visit and donation to St. Sophia’s helps us learn as we continue to move towards our goal.
Will Poole, Corporate Vice President, Unlimited Potential Group