Ioanna Tsokopoulou

Ioanna Tsokopoulou

Translations:

Ioanna Tsokopoulou was born in 1930. She worked in National Bank of Greece from 1951 until 1977. In 1977 she resigned to devote herself to the creation of a pilot school for the special education for young people with intellectual disabilities.

The dream...

Ioanna Tsokopoulou, mother of a child with Down Syndrome, has set a goal of her life to find a way to help her child and other children with intellectual disabilities to have the chance to get an education, acquire working skills and be integrated into society. The idea matured in her mind for many years. She visited special schools in France, China and finally in 1975, in the Soviet Union where she visited a model school that impressed her and the idea began to take shape.

The beginning...

"It all started in 1976. With the help of friends and colleagues, I founded a special charitable, non profit, organization with the specific goal of creating a model educational center for people with disabilities. I visited the Academic Angelos Angelopoulos, Governor of the National Bank, I discussed with him my idea and needs and requested acquisition through trust of a property in Penteli owned by the Bank. And so it happened" writes Ioanna Tsokopoulou in her book "He Is My Son" (Kastaniotis Editions, Athens, 1988).

The opening...

On November 2, 1979, took place the opening of  Margarita Special Education Center - consisting of a three-room house and a large kitchen, totaling 220 square meters in a 4.5 acre estate, overgrown with pine, olive trees, agrambeli, chamomiles, mallets ...

The name…

“The name MARGARITA had been decided since I heard the name of Nelli Zelioti-Giannopoulou’s daughter. Nelli had lost her only child, Margarita, at the age of eighteen, a few days before I made her acquaintance, in December 1977. It was so soon after the tragic event, that her sorrow had penetrated my bones.” From Ioanna Tsokopoulou’s book, “He Is My Son” (Kastaniotis Editions, Athens, 1988)

 The first programs ...

Under the guidance of Director Maria Peponi, staff is selected on the basis of knowledge and sensitivity. The first programs are beginning to be tested: motor education, housekeeping, gardening, weaving, school knowledge maintenance, while others aimed at educating young people in autonomy and communication are being tested, so that they can move around on their own, self-serve, make transactions. That is, to acquire the skills of everyday life.

 The first workshop ...

The same year the first workshop started operating. It is a craft workshop that, in addition to practicing hands, introduces young people to the concept of productive work. Two looms are purchased.

The number of young people is 12.

 So this is how MARGARITA began…

 Margarita is growing up ...

The next year, with the two looms, the second weaving workshop is created and silk-screen printing equipment is purchased.

The scientific staff is complemented by the recruitment of a psychiatrist and psychologist.

Since then, MARGARITA has been constantly growing, the number of the students increases and the institution becomes a pole of attraction; soon it is obvious that the space cannot cover the needs of its students any more.

In 1983 the beneficiaries were 30 and the staff 11 persons.

In 1990 the beneficiaries reached 60 and the staff 28 persons.

In 1993, a first donation was made by Mrs. Margarita Samurka. Immediately afterwards the construction of the first floor begins on the original building. The project was completed in 1995.

In 1998 the young men and women exceed 80 and the staff 35.

In May 2000 the construction of a new building next to the old one is completed and the surrounding area is completed. The new building measures 992 square meters. It was funded by the Public Investment Program of the Ministry of Health and Welfare with the co-financing of the European Union.

 Today...

MARGARITA now serves 100 beneficiaries, while supporting its 14 graduates working in the open labor market.