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The Warsaw Voice » Society » June 3, 2009
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CEOs Give Their Seats to Children
June 3, 2009   
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On the occasion of Children's Day, students of elementary schools in the southern city of Cracow got to sit in the chairs of the chief executive officers of the city's five largest companies.

The children are in the care of the Academy of the Future, which is run by the Spring Association. Throughout the school year, the association's volunteers help the children with problems such as dyslexia, paralyzing fear and the trauma of being labeled the worst pupil in the class.

On June 1, Children's Day, the kids visited the headquarters of BP Polska, UBS, Motorola, Sabre Holdings, and RR Donnelley, where the comfortable armchairs of the top CEOs awaited them. In this special way, the association wanted to show that every child has the right to success.

Ania, who is 12, had problems with orthography and was at risk of having to repeat the year. Now, thanks to assistance from a volunteer, she is writing a novel about dolphins. Kuba, 13, is so encouraged by his work with an association volunteer that he not only got his first A in English, but was even elected to the student council at his school. Thanks to her tutor Marta, 12-year-old Ola learned the multiplication table by playing a math game.

The association is providing assistance to 500 children like Ania, Kuba and Ola. Thanks to their weekly meetings with the volunteers, the children not only improve their grades at school, but also learn to become self-confident, despite a difficult situation at home, discouragement, disease, unemployment or the absence of parents.

Anna Żaczek, coordinator of the Academy for the Future, believes the visits to the companies were a great success. "We didn't expect that it would be such an inspiring experience for the children," she says. At the headquarters of BP Polska, a strategic partner for the Academy for the Future, everything was of interest to them: the front desk, the gates with the special entrance procedures, the noiseless elevator that swiftly took them to the third floor. Grażyna Bakunowicz, assistant to the company president, tirelessly answered the most incisive questions: What is marketing? How many security guards work for BP? Is the president manly? When BP boss Jerzy Brniak (see photo) appeared at his office door, the children's reserve melted away. During a special photo session, each child had an opportunity to try out the boss's magic armchair for a minute.

The children were also offered many attractions at the headquarters of Sabre Holdings, one of the world's largest producers of software for airlines and travel agencies. The meeting started with a joint excursion of the staff and children to an airfield in Balice, outside Cracow, where the children were invited to board a plane. After an exciting photo session in the cockpit, the children went to Zabierzów to meet with Sabre Holdings staff, with whom they played a game in which the operation of an airport was simulated.
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