2017 Event


  • Eurasia Special Children Association
  • Bahçeşehir University Turkish Straits Research and Application Center
  • Bebekliler Association Working Group
  • Bebekliler Association
  • Beylikdüzü Marine
  • Bosphorus Association Platform
  • Naval Museum Command
  • an NGO Organization for Search and Rescue in the Istanbul Seas
  • World Wildlife Foundation/WWF- Turkey
  • Ship Modelers and Ship Lovers Association
  • Koç University Marine Activities Forum
  • Ortaköy Yatch Club
  • The Marmara Sea and the Turkish Straits Coast Guard Command
  • Sarıyer Marine Development Center
  • Turkish Marine Environment Protection Association
  • Tuzla Yacht Club
  • Beygü Gökçin
  • Beysun Gökçin
  • Eren Joseph Dwyer
  • Paul Dwyer
  • DJ Serhan Sabanlar

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“Blue Homeland, Children in Blue and Blue Civilisation”

Celebrating April 23, 2017 ‘National Sovereignity and Children’s Day’ with marine events at Bebek Bay in Istanbul

This year we celebrated the 97th year of the Turkish ‘National Sovereignity and Children’s Day’ bequethed by Atatürk to all of us, but especially to children. As Bebekliler Association and Bebek Citizens’ Initiative (Bebek Semt Girişimi – BSG) we believe it is very important to introduce our children, in early childhood, to life by the seas, and to transform their fear of the seas to a passion for life at sea. We know that it is in our hands to bring together our beautiful ‘blue country’ with ‘blue civilization’. We are aware of the fact that when the two unite we can be more independent, more democratic, more rational, more scientific, more productive, more hardworking, more courageous and more environmentally cautious. In the end, we shall be more prosperous and happier.

With such awareness we decided to celebrate this year’s ‘National Sovereignity and Children’s Day’ with children and their families embracing the sea and marine activities.

As Bebekliler Association and Bebek Citizens’ Initiative (Bebek Semt Girişimi – BSG) we organised a different and enjoyable event together with Koç University Maritime Forum (Koç Üniversitesi Denizcilik Forumu – KUDENFOR) and Sarıyer Municipality’s Center for Maritime Affairs (Sarıyer Denizcileşme Merkezi), Bahçeşehir University Turkish Straits Research Center (Bahçeşehir Üniversitesi Türk Boğazları Uygulama ve Araştırma Merkezi – BAU TURBAM), Ortaköy Yacht Club, DAK-SAR Search and Rescue at Istanbul Seas (NGO) (DAK-SAR Gönüllü Deniz Arama ve Kurtarma Örgütü) and the Platform of Istanbul Strait Associations (Boğaziçi Dernekleri Platformu – BODEP) as well as numerous public and civil society organisations.

Behind this event lie our dream of making ‘Bebek – a center, a focal point for sea-related activities’…

This event organized at Bebek Park and its shores attracted a lot of attention in the media. In live coverage, CNN Turk reporter especially underlined the fact that this was one of the most different events ever staged in Istanbul. On a cold and windy Sunday between 12:00-16:00 on April 23, 2017 numerous organizations joined children at Bebek Park around the theme of ‘Denizcileşme’ (Uniting with the Seas). To give them a feel of the seas we had them wear life jackets as we took them for short boat rides. The Marmara Sea and the Turkish Straits Coast Guard Command divers put on a show for them near the shore.

Naval Museum Command of the Turkish Naval Command opened an exhibition to promote seafaring. There were mannequins of former Ottoman sailors and commanders.

DAK-SAR Search and Rescue at Istanbul Seas (NGO) (DAKSAR Gönüllü Deniz Arama ve Kurtarma Örgütü) on land taught children how to tie marine knots. With their boats they performed at sea. Tuzla Yatch Club escorted ‘dingis’ (small sailboats) and old-fashioned ‘kancabaş’ fishing boats north, all the way to Bebek. Young sailors from the Sarıyer Municipality, Center for Maritime Affairs (Sarıyer Denizcileşme Merkezi) took children out to sea in those fishing boats. On land they organised tug-of-war competitions for them.

In their exhibition stand Model Sea Vessels Association (Gemi Modelcileri Derneği) exhibited sample models of real ships. Their volunteers aimed to inspire the young to take up model-making as a hobby. Free books on sailing for the young were provided and distributed by the Marmara Open Seas Yatch Club– Beylikdüzü Municipality Marina (Marmara Açıkdeniz Yat Klübü – Beylikdüzü Belediyesi Marina) members. Volunteers from Turkish Marine Environment (TURMEPA) and World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) -Turkey answered children’s questions and gave them free guide books on conserving the environment.

Our dear Bebek resident Beysun Gökçin – a sailor, architect, cartoon artist, the producer of a radio program called ’Open Seas’ – held a live boat-making workshop. Children used sand paper, installed screws, and had big fun in the construction of the boat they later named ‘Bebek 350’.

Bebekliler Derneği-Bebek Semt Girişimi event was also enriched with live music. Scottish musician Paul Dwyer and his son Eren had previously won our hearts with their performance of an old Turkish folk song “Çanakkale İçinde Aynalı Çarşı” (composed at Gallipoli during the Turkish War of Independence) This time they again created unforgettable moments for us. Paul with his guitar and Eren with his violin also had a surprise for us – together with a children’s chorus they played songs they had composed especially for April 23 !

Another Bebek resident, artist and musician Beygü Gökçin, also accompanied Paul Dwyer with his harmonica. The duo’s music was a feast. Our Bebek neighbor DJ Serhan Sabanlar added to the lively spirit of the event with his music.

Children took an active role at the opening ceremony and during the general flow of the event. More than 1000 children from different parts of Istanbul attended the festivity.

At the opening, the percussion and dance performances of the Avrasya Özel Çocuklar Derneği (children with Down syndrome), received minutes of applause.

Aiming make this event an annual tradition, Bebekliler Derneği-Bebek Semt Girişimi plan to develop a center, a focal point in Bebek for sea sports. They aim to provide free-of-charge lessons and training in swimming, sailing, rowing, and other marine activities for the young.