Youth Sports Games in Child-Friendly Spaces
‘Give Me Your Hand, Together We Will Not Be Lonely’
Doboj, Aug 2014. The playground of Elementary School ‘Ozren’ in Donja Paklenica near Doboj is a busy place. Teams Why Do You Care/Šta te briga and Apocalypse/Apokalipsa play a game of Keep Away/Između dvije vatre for first place in a small tournament. The third team, White Falcons/Bijeli Sokolovi, wait to see who they will compete against for third place. At the end of the game Apokalipsa wins and Šta te briga beats Bijeli Sokolovi in the fight for second place.
After visiting Donja Paklenica, the team went to Usora, near Doboj, where a merry little group welcomed them. Sanja Lopandić, President of Association Step 2/Korak2, whose premises accommodate the Children’s Corner in this settlement, explained that there was huge interest in the Children’s Corner and several groups totalling around 140 children visited! This group was the largest one and it came three times a week, while two other groups came once a week.
A few children from the older groups came to spend time with the BiH Youth Sport Games team, but most in attendance were from the youngest group. They immediately took their crayons and markers and started to draw and make figures. The older children also decorated the banners, drawing pictures and writing messages such as ‘A Friend is the Biggest Treasure’, ‘You Cannot Buy a Friend with a Money’, and Milica from the older group, wrote beside her drawing ‘Give Me Your Hand, Together We Will Not Be Lonely’.
The Corner in Usora was attended by children from the settlement but also those from Doboj, which has had no kindergarten since the floods; so the Corner became a substitute. Parents hoped that Association Step 2 would continue the activities after the end of August.
“We had opened a playroom for the children from this settlement a few days before the May floods and just when we started to work it was all destroyed. Luckily, there was this project of children’s safe corners so, with the aid of UNICEF and World Vision, we cleaned up and reconstructed the premises. We expect to manage to continue previously planned activities after August since parents simply expect us to do so. Kindergartens were destroyed in floods and we are all they have for now, “ Sanja Lopandić told us. She added that, besides its regular activities, the Association was currently working together with parents to organize an initiative for the Municipality related to building and reconstructing children’s playgrounds in the town.
“Lenka went to a kindergarten in Doboj which was flooded and I intend to keep bringing her here. She is contented, has company, plays with other children and I am really satisfied with the Corner. It is nice to have a place for our kids since there is nothing for them in the town,”, said Tanja Srdić, while four-year Lenka was drawing her hand on the banner.
Tata Igor came to pick up 3-and–a-half-year-old Nikolina and he could not hide how pleased he was with the Corner.
“I only have words of praise. Nikolina has nice time and it is helpful for us as we have 5-month-old twins at home and we manage to do all our chores while she is at the Corner,” Igor told us. Mladenka, whose 8-year-old son Nikola came once a week and was in the intermediate group, was satisfied with the quality time her son had a chance to have during the holidays. Dragana and Nada, whose sons Stefan and Mirko also came to the Corner, shared the same view.
The BIH Youth Sport Games team planned to also visit the Corner in Doboj. After socializing, the children went home with new experiences and memories. Some of the children from these three workshops would later meet at the final of the Youth Sport Games in Sarajevo, along with children from around 25 towns across BiH.