Goodwill Ambassador Edin Džeko opens new premises of Early Childhood Development Centre
NOVI GRAD, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 6 June 2011 - The new premises of the UNICEF Early Childhood Development at Alipašino Polje in the Sarajevo Municipality of Novi Grad were opened today. Novi Grad Municipality was the first in Bosnia and Herzegovina to open such a centre, and, presently, the centre exists in six more municipalities: Laktaši, Tuzla, Foča, Kiseljak, Bileća and Kotor Varoš. In the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the “Early Growth and Development Strategy” has only recently been recently, with UNICEF’s integrated centres being one of their foundations.
The new premises of the centre are located in Novi Grad. The centre itself was opened in 2009. Today, Edin Džeko, BiH national football team and Manchester City player, came to Novi Grad in his role as UNICEF Goodwill ambassador. Meeting with the Mayor of Novi Grad, Damir Hadžić, and with the support of the children from the centre, Džeko participated in the opening ceremony which was also attended by Florence Bauer, Head of UNICEF’s Office in BiH, and Johan Hesse, Head of Operations with the delegation of the European Commission in BiH.
"I am very glad that the centre has been provided with new premises giving a chance to more children to participate in this programme. I am also glad to be here today with children, I always feel good when I am around them, and I am happy that Novi Grad Municipality has recognized and provided support to this UNICEF’s programme. I am hopeful that the centre will continue working well as has been the case so far, and provide these kids with the best beginning there is”, said Edin Džeko who was permanently surrounded by the children and parents as soon as he showed up. Everyone wanted to approach him, talk to him and take a picture, and Džeko, regardless of the crowd, kindly talked and gladly posed for pictures with everyone.
As Rada Lukić, Centre’s Coordinator, said, the need to open new premises was due to the huge interest the parents and children had shown and also due to the ever-expanding services the centre provides.
"Last year, around 700 families were involved in the centre, with 7500 services rendered. The need to expand occurred on account of the increasing number of both children and parents wanting to volunteer. We are also starting mobile teams that will work with the children coming from hill-side parts of the municipality, and, in addition to the regular staff, we also intend to hire a gynaecologist to be working, once or twice a week, on the education of young married couples wanting children, as well as of young mothers”, Rada Lukić said, adding that a children’s dentist will also take part in the teams in order to take care of the dental health of the children.
"My Isak is three-and-a-half years old, and he has been here since he was three. I am very satisfied with everything, we would only like it if there could be more terms available. Workshops are amazing, both for children and parents”, Nataša Šabanović said who came to the opening ceremony with her son Isak. Žale Mikačević is also very pleased, saying that she herself has attended workshops which she considers very useful, but that it was her daughter Lea who benefited most from it: "She used to be rather withdrawn and shy. Here, she started socializing with children, and, look at her now – she is playing, she is with children, wants to get pictures taken…”.
Lejla Poljak who brought two daughters, Sara and Merjem, to the ceremony, says that they both go to the centre, and that she would rather have even more terms available. "On a scale of one to ten, I give the centre a straight ten! I am really satisfied, the progress the children are making is seen daily, but also us parents are making progress, since we have learned a lot at the workshops”, Lejla Poljak said.
Florence Bauer pointed out her satisfaction at the fact that the services of the centre are expanding, thanking for this to the representatives of Novi Grad Municipality and the European Union, who have recognized its importance. She also added that the centre is a part of UNICEF’s policy of providing support to all the children as well as part of the “Social Protection and Inclusion System Strengthening Project in BiH”. The representative of the European Commission, Johan Hesse, congratulated UNICEF and the Municipality for the Centre and other efforts they have made.
"In football it can happen that we lose a match, as there is always another chance, but in the development of children we cannot afford to ever lose. I am pleased to see that this model has been initiated in BiH and that the children in this municipality will get all the services needed at early growth and development”, Hesse said.