December the 3rd, the International Day of Persons with Disability: “Children want, can, know...”
“It’s such a pity, what a cute child ”, “Poor thing”, “God save us from this ”… These are only some of the comments that have been made about the children with developmental difficulties. One third of the population in Bosnia and Herzegovina pity them. Awareness that they should be included in the society and that they have the right to receive education as well as that the community can learn from them is insufficiently strong. The cultural artistic event that took place on December the 3rd, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities in the Bosanski Kulturni Centar hall, where the kids with disability and those without disabilities were the stars, was a great opportunity to see how this works. The event was organized by UNICEF and the Association «Give Us a Chance ”, and supported by a joint campaign of the UNICEF, EU Delegation in BIH and USAID “It’s about ability “ dedicated to the children with disabilities.
“I can contribute to the community. Get to know me. Help me to learn. Respect me, because respect is equality. Work with me. Support me. Do not change me. Be my friend! ”. A moving performance put on by pupils of the Primary School Čengić Vila I, Rehabilitation Centre for Deaf and Speech Impaired Persons, and Association “Rainbow ” received thundering applause. A strong message conveyed by the inclusive drama “Waking Up ” made many among the audience drop a tear, certainly because it reminded us of all the hurdles the children with difficulties face in BiH face in their daily life, but even more because of the superb performance.
After the first run of the short promotional video „It’s about ability“, the children of different age and with various forms of disabilities were given an opportunity to show themselves for what they are together with the peers without disabilities. And they were fully successful in doing so through various forms of performance including dancing, singing, instrument playing, drama, recital and ballet. The smiles on the children’s faces and the pride in the eyes of their parents and friends, as well as enthusiastic response of the audience were the best indicators of this success.
Abilities of the children with difficulties were focus of this event: their ability to learn, to progress “to show what they can and what they cannot do”. “That’s the beauty and essence of living”, was the message of Ines Kavalec, President of the Association “Give Us a Chance “ and mother of a child with difficulties. We should not view these children through things they cannot do. These children do not need mercy or pity, what they need is a chance to show their abilities, because they are entitled to such a chance. They want it, they can, they know. We should fight together for their rights.”
„To achieve full inclusion of the children with disability, it is necessary to remove physical obstacles, secure functional inclusion in the teaching process, facilitate the work of daily care centres, but most importantly, it is necessary to overcome obstacles enrooted in the people’s mentality, appreciate the abilities of these children and accept them as equal members of the society “, Florence Bauer, representative of UNICEF in BiH, stressed. Natalia Dianiskova, Head of Operations Section for the Social Development, Civil Society and Cross Border Cooperation at the European Union Delegation also spoke at the event.
“I am very happy and emotional. It is great to see the children so cheerful and delighted in their diversity. They primarily need a great deal of support and understanding, and I am confident that this event is the point where a nice story on the inclusion of the children with disabilities has began “, Senad, a parent said.
The event also hosted an exhibition of photographs made by Dženat Dreković in the Centre Mjedenica while some thirty volunteers of the Association “Give Us a Chance ” received letters of thanks for their whole-hearted support. “These young people are an inspiration showing how one should live and accept the diversity “ Ines Kavalec stressed. The popular BiH duet Laka and Lejla, friends of the campaign “It’s about ability “ appeared on the stage in the final minutes of the event giving rise to a great joy among both children and parents.