Nurselen Toygar (Season 02 - Episode 19)
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This Week's Changemaker; Nurselen Toygar Mobilizes Turkey to Raise Awareness on Environment and People with Disabilities

On 3 March 2011 Sabanci Foundation's "Turkey's Changemakers" hosts Nurselen Toygar, the Assistant Dean at the Ege University in Izmir, who has launched a campaign to mobilize citizens, public and private sector in protecting environment and helping people with disabilities.

 

Prof. Dr. Nurselen Toygar has been working as the Assistant Dean at the Ege University Dentistry Faculty for many years. What distinguish her from other academicians are her efforts in mobilizing a campaign on environmental sustainability and disability awareness. The campaign's goal is to recycle blue caps of the plastic bottles that people tend to throw away in order to finance the purchase of wheelchairs for persons in need. Although it sounds pretty complicated when put into words, Ms. Toygar's project is fairly simple. With the participation of the public, tens of thousands of plastic bottles are to be collected to be given to recycling companies. In return, these companies donate wheelchairs to the project, which would be distributed to persons with physical disabilities. The reason for choosing blue caps over plastic bottles is their relatively small size and ease in collection.

 

The campaign was first launched in 2010 in collaboration with the Istanbul Atasehir District Foundation for the Disabled. Through the efforts of Nurselen Toygar, Ege University became the main contractor of the project. Eventually, Prof. Dr. Nurselen Toygar started negotiations with recycling companies and it was agreed to exchange one ton of blue caps for four wheelchairs with a company licensed by the Ministry of Environment. Following the negotiation process, Nurselen Toygar and her team started working together with local organizations in the Aegean Region to determine the transportation and wheelchair needs of the people with physical disabilities. Facing numerous problems in the collection of blue caps, Nurselen Toygar signed new protocols with private companies and established four hundred cap-collection points across Turkey. Thereby, The Blue Cap Campaign has become the entire country's project. 25 tons of caps were collected since June 2010 and 80 persons with disabilities were provided with wheelchairs.

 

Mobilizing not only public and private sector but also community at large Prof. Dr. Nurselen Toygar promotes engaged citizenship. The campaign kills three birds with one shot: contributes to the environment through collection of blue caps, makes new uses of blue caps by recycling companies and provide wheelchairs to the people with physical disabilities.

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