Milky Way Race unites Croatia
More than 7,200 participants of the Milky Way race traversed 367,000 kilometers in all parts of Croatia and the project raised a total of more than 1.2 million Kuna for children with disabilities
The fourth UNICEF humanitarian race Milky Way ended on Sunday, 20 September, and it was held virtually this year due to the epidemiological measures, thus uniting the whole of Croatia. During the 16 days of the race, 7210 participants collected 367,080 symbolic kilometers of support throughout Croatia, and in the three months of the project more than 1.2 million Kuna was collected, which will be invested by UNICEF in equipping sensory rooms and education of professionals who will perform sensory integration therapies for children with disabilities.
Nine hundred seventy children participated in the Milky Way as well as 21 associations, many of which work with children with disabilities, 58 companies registered their teams, resulting in a total of 706 teams registered in the application, and more than 50 public figures supported the race and children with disabilities in Croatia in various ways. All previous UNICEF races have been inclusive, but this year's race is also distinguished by a large number of people with disabilities and children with disabilities who have contributed to achieving the goal of the race by participating in it.
Commenting on the great participation in this year's Milky Way, the Representative of the UNICEF Office for Croatia, Regina M. Castillo, stated the following:
“This year's Milky Way race is unique in many ways. More than 7,000 participants of all ages supported children with disabilities by running, walking, riding a bicycle or participating in a wheelchair on thousands of paths all over Croatia. The enthusiasm and solidarity we have experienced in recent weeks from all participants - adults, children, associations, athletes, artists, decision makers and other public figures - are almost unbelievable, and we are pleased with the significant participation by companies."
"For children with disabilities, professional support from an early age means the difference between opportunities and life on the fringes of society. Many of them still do not have the opportunity to develop their abilities and live a fulfilled life. The funds raised thanks to Milky Way will be invested by UNICEF in the training of professionals and caregivers, as well as in equipping sensory rooms, thus providing access to quality sensory therapy services to those families to whom these services are not available. Together we collected more than 360 thousand kilometers which we symbolically called "kilometers of opportunities" for children with disabilities in Croatia. We achieved an exceptional result and I thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for their support.“
Sensory integration refers to the way our brain receives and processes information received through the senses, and sensory integration therapy encourages the child to take initiative and actively participate in meaningful activity which will provide the necessary sensory stimuli and help organize behavior. A sensory room (sensory integration environment) is a multisensory space used to provide additional sensory stimulation to children with sensory integration difficulties through exposure to various stimuli or to reduce sensory stimuli and enable children to relax. In the sensory room, light stimuli, sounds, tactile surfaces, scents, vibrations, and mobile devices are used to improve behavioral regulation, reduce restlessness, and enhance learning and interaction.
This year's race was held with great support from companies, among which the corporate partners of the race stand out – the main star – Kaufland, and the stars of the race – the Center for Vehicles of Croatia, Pampers and Tele2.
Anyone who wants to can support children with disabilities even after the race by making a donation on the UNICEF website www.unicef.hr/donirajte-za-senzorne-sobe/ and thus help enhance access to quality sensory integration therapy for children with disabilities in Croatia.