With a presence in nearly every continent in the world, we are
proud to show how we have helped our local communities.
If you want to find out how Bata volunteers are making a
difference in your region check out the stories below.
BCP Czech Republic Plants Seed of Sustainability for Earth Day
Earth Day occurs annually on April 22, and BCP Czech Republic has a tradition of carrying out the tree-planting activity every year in the Bata forest near the village of Kateřinice. The activity had originally been planned for April 21, the day before the event, but the weather prevented it from taking place due to snow in the forest making conditions impossible for planting trees, and so the date of May 12 was chosen as a replacement.
A total of six volunteers took part in the activity, divided into two or three groups, and over the course of the day the teams succeeded in planting 850 oak and spruce trees in the Bata forest. The planting was accompanied by a rich educational program for the 22 children present, who were taught to identify bark beetles and how to fight against them to protect trees.
The children also took part in an entertaining game, where they had to walk blind through the woods, feeling their way and learning even more about the forest, receiving wooden medals as a reward for completing the task.
After all the fun and hard work, the volunteers and the children shared a delicious and thoroughly deserved barbecue, before the group got together for a final picture to remind everyone of the day. The group returned home satisfied with their day’s work, and looking forward to repeating the activity next year.
Another Winning Edition of BCP Tennis Tournament in Aubonne
This year’s event, which took place across seven clay courts at the tennis club of Aubonne, in collaboration with the tennis club of Etoy, marked a new milestone in terms of participation. It featured 140 boys and girls aged between 10 and 16 year old, compared to just 40 participants in its first year, transforming the Bata Junior Open into the major junior tournament in the Canton of Vaud this year.
The competition’s winning formula was once again the combination of a very affordable entry fee, thanks to the support of the Bata Children’s Program (BCP) foundation, and the organization of the event, which allowed participants to play against equally ranked players and made for more enjoyable matches. Many of those who took part had already participated in previous editions, a fact that gave great satisfaction to the team involved in organizing the event.
The cherry on the cake for this year’s event was the fact that in the Under-12 category the Bata Junior Open welcomed for the first time several talented players ranked in the top five in Switzerland, which was a real pleasure to see.
In addition to the prizes for the semi-finalists and finalists, each participant received a pair of Bata customized Pata Pata flip flops for the summer. Both the tennis clubs of Aubonne and Etoy look forward organizing the next edition of the Bata Junior Open in 2018.
Person of the Week: Joris van Genuchten, 70 Years with Bata
Van Genuchten first joined Bata in the early 1950s when the company was still getting back on its feet after World War II. Within a few years, he was given the opportunity to go to South Africa and continue his accountancy work for the company as part of the team there. An opportunity he welcomed with open arms. At the time he didn’t realize this was just one of the many adventures, travels and homes he would have as part of the Bata family.
By the late 1950s, Bata was already an international success and, as a financial expert, van Genuchten’s skills were called on in many locations.
“We started in South Africa, where my girlfriend, who came with me, became my wife. She could only stay for three months without getting married, so on the last day, we took the plunge. Before we left South Africa we had already had two children, and then Bata asked me to manage the accountancy department in Zimbabwe, so we moved there.”
Van Genuchten and his wife lived in the Bata town in Gweru, Zimbabwe and had two more children there before moving to Bolivia, where van Genuchten was offered the role of financial director.
“Bata in Bolivia was very important to the country, and you had to be careful not to make mistakes. At the time, there was a lot of corruption, but Mr. [Thomas J.] Bata felt very strongly that we always had to pay what we were expected to pay and that we would not participate in any other practices. He said this was an important example of how business should be done.”
In 1968, van Genuchten and his family moved back to the Netherlands and were given a house in the Bata town. A house that he still lives in today, although he bought it from Bata in the 1970s.
“I am happy I stayed with Bata. I enjoyed the 10 years outside the country in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Bolivia, and I enjoyed the time I lived here in the Bata town in the Netherlands,” van Genuchten reminisced. “The children had a beautiful childhood, and there was such a community spirit.”
Now in his 80s, van Genuchten has long retired from his financial director role within Bata, although he is pleased to still have strong ties to the company that go beyond living in the old Bata town.
“My son Hans is now working for Bata and living here in Best. It’s good to have a son working for the same company where I worked for so long.”
BCP Switzerland Promotes Environmental Education among Children
In total, BCP Switzerland brought 89 groups of children to the Arboretum in 2016, over 71 days. A total of 1,390 young people visited the facility thanks to the BCP program, the majority from Canton Vaud and Geneva, where they were given a thematic tour of the facility’s 3,000 species of trees and shrubs under the guidance of four approved environmental guides.
The total number of groups brought to the Arboretum by BCP Switzerland in 2016 exceeded its impressive results from 2015, with more groups benefiting from the tour, and around 400 more children given the opportunity to see the museum’s diverse natural environment over the course of the year.
The participation of disabled children in the visits also remains stable, as the Arboretum once again welcomed a significant number of children with disabilities, as well as several classes of students with learning difficulties. These visits gave the children an introduction to the unique park, dedicated to the world of trees, helping them to discover more about the natural world and learn about the importance of conservation.
Nicole Voillat, director of the Bata Children’s Program, stated: “We are very happy to support, for the third year in a row, this important environmental education program for children in this unique green museum, the Arboretum of Aubonne. Environmental education is also empowering young people as it promotes active learning, citizenship, and student leadership.”
BCP Czech Republic Volunteers Treat Orphans to Educational Trip
The three-day trip was held in September, and the group, consisting of six children from the orphanage and BCP volunteers Zuzana Kleinova and Frantisek Vondrak, visited the city of Ostrava. Their first stop was the technical museum of the Tatra car company in Koprivnice, where the group learned about the world-renowned Tatra car company. After this, they went to Landek Park to visit an exhibition about miners, which included an authentic journey down the pit to see the miners‘ workplace.
On the second day, the children were brought to Ostrava’s Science and Technology Center, which features a wide range of attractions that demonstrate the laws of physics, weather processes and the functions of the human body in a specific and child-friendly way. The group’s second stop was Ostrava Planetarium, where they saw constellation and planets from the solar system, as well as a film about the most important star – the Sun. The film explained the Sun’s life cycle and its power and impact on the planets and on life on Earth.
The final day of the trip saw the group travel to the town of Roznov pod Radhostem about 50 kilometers away, where they had a chance to go to a swimming pool before returning home to Liptal. All the children were tremendously excited to have spent three days discovering new places and learning a great deal of interesting and educational information.
Speaking after the visit, Kleinova commented: "I always like to see children interested in new information and being integrated into society, but it is not always easy. As many of those in children’s homes face physical and psychological obstacles, communicating and taking care of them can be very difficult. You get to see their fears, limits and specific difficulties. Some situations are somewhat critical and require specialized medical expertise. All of this makes me consider my work a little bit differently."
BCP Czech Republic Teaches Children to Care for the Planet
A total of 19 children from the orphanage took part in the event, which was organized by Martina Julickova, BCP coordinator for the Czech Republic, along with two other BCP volunteers: Frantisek Vondrak, training manager, and Tomas Josek, personnel manager.
To mark the occasion, children and BCP volunteers planted more than one hundred new trees between the villages of Loucka and Katerinice. The event took place in collaboration with the Forests and Estates of Tomas Bata, the company that manages the forest assets of Sonja Bata.
In addition to the tree-planting initiative, the activity also included practical exercises with a science and nature specialist, who informed participants about a range of interesting facts, such as how to learn the age of a tree or forest, how to protect biodiversity and how to keep the planet in good condition for future generations.
BCP volunteers then prepared a barbecue to conclude the day’s events, in return for the children’s hard work. The whole day was a great success, being both enjoyable and informative for children and volunteers alike, and BCP Czech Republic is already looking forward to organizing next year’s event.
Julickova commented: “No one else is going to save the planet for us. It is our duty to come forward and do as much as we can, because small actions can add up to a big change.”
Successful Third Year for Bata Junior Open in Aubonne, Switzerland
The number of participants in this year’s event was 28 more than in the previous edition, an increase of 47 percent, showing a significant increase in interest in the competition. Matches were played on two sites, the Tennis Club d’Aubonne and the Tennis Club d’Etoy, and the two clubs once again worked well together to allow the event to run smoothly.
The tournament was divided into eight categories, all singles, including six categories for boys and two for girls. The event saw a large number of parents and children return after having participated last year, demonstrating the success and popularity of the tournament, and highlighting how eager participants are to play on the courts of Aubonne and Etoy.
Serge Michel, President of the Tennis Club d’Aubonne, commented: “It is always a pleasure to see all these young kids coming, sometimes for the first time, to match against each other on the courts. The atmosphere was great throughout the event, and we can be proud of the warm rewards received from both parents and children. The Bata Open now stands among the biggest tournaments in the area, and we hope to reach 100 players next year.”
Another Successful Year for BCP Switzerland’s Environmental Education Activities
In total, BCP Switzerland brought 84 classes and groups of children to the Arboretum, with 1,120 young people benefiting from a thematic tour of the facility’s 3,000 species of trees and shrubs, under the guidance of four approved environmental guides
In addition, the Arboretum welcomed a dozen classes of children with disabilities, as well as several classes of students with learning difficulties. Despite the challenges posed by extending visits to groups with special needs, BCP Switzerland took pleasure in offering the experience to these children, and introducing different groups of children to the unique park dedicated to the world of trees.
Nicole Voillat, director of the Bata Children’s Program, stated: “We are very happy to support this environmental education program because it helps to reconnect children to nature in their backyards, and foster an appreciation of what the earth offers us. Children who spend time outside have been proven to be happier and healthier.”
Environmental education is important as it helps to equip tomorrow’s leaders for the challenges they will face in the future, preparing children for the world they will ultimately inherit. Additionally, by engaging youth with environmental issues, it encourages them to become future conservation leaders.
Due to the fact that the modern urban landscape is increasingly present in children’s lives, environmental education and outdoor learning are becoming increasingly necessary. Studies have shown that environmental education engages students in learning, improves test scores, and encourages young people to pursue careers related to the environment and natural resources.