UNICEF Milky Way Race raises 165,000 euro to support the mental health of children and young people in Croatia

26 September 2023
Mlijecna staza 2023_MLADI
Petar Santini


ZAGREB, 26 September 2023 – The traditional, seventh edition of UNICEF's humanitarian Milky Way Race finished on Sunday midnight, 24 September. This year's race gathered more than 6,500 participants of all ages on thousands of trails across Croatia, to support the mental health of children and young people. During 10 days, thousands of children, youth, schools, decision-makers, experts, associations, celebrities, symbolically collected kilometres of support and helped UNICEF to raise more than 165,000 thousand euro (1,2 million HRK) through registration fees, and donations from citizens and companies.

The funds will be invested by UNICEF in support of the implementation and expansion of the “Schools of Support” programme to strengthen the resilience and mental health of students and teachers. The programme is carried out in cooperation with the Forum for Freedom of Education, with the support of the Education and Teacher Training Agency. It is estimated that by investing in the implementation of the programme after the Milky Way Race 2023 more than 450 teachers, headteachers and expert staff will be educated to support the mental health of children and young people, and more than 13,000 primary and secondary school students will benefit from the programme activities. 

”We continue to lead an open conversation about mental health – a topic surrounded with stigma, and the Milky Way race achieved an important goal this year as well – we raised funds which we will invest in supporting the mental health of children and young people in schools. The mental health of children and young people is indivisible from the education system, and teachers are the people with whom students, along with their peers, spend the most time so we want to empower them so they can act as a line of first aid. I want to thank all participants, as well as our partners and supporters, for supporting this worthy cause”

Regina M. Castillo, Representative of UNICEF Office for Croatia

Since schools have a unique and vital role in the lives of children and young people and are important places in the preservation and protection of their mental health, it is especially pleasing that more than 2,000 students, of which 1,100 from Sisak-Moslavina County, along with more than 340 teachers, participated in this year's race. During the race, schools throughout Croatia organized various events and gatherings with the aim of promoting the mental health of children and young people. 

The UNICEF humanitarian race Milky Way 2023 was held under the auspices of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, the President of the Republic of Croatia Zoran Milanović and the Ministry of Science and Education together with the support of more than 50 companies, whose corporate teams participated in the race,  turning time for their health into support to the mental health of children and young people. Kaufland Hrvatska, the main sponsor since the first edition of the race, this year, apart from their sponsorship donation, additionally donated 1 euro for each registered participant. Taking into account the long-term partnership and dedication to topics for the betterment of children and young people, the additional donation of Kaufland Hrvatska amounts to 10,000 euro. The Golden Star of the race – Privredna banka Zagreb additionally supported the participation of 200 students from the Sisak-Moslavina County. Other sponsor partners included Bina-Istra and Njuškalo


Seven years of UNICEF's humanitarian Milky Way Race 

This year, UNICEF's Milky Way Race was held for the seventh time in a row, and in the period from 2017 to 2023 it created a huge social momentum, gathering more than 32.000 participants and raising more than 900,000 euro (6,7 million kuna) to support the development of children in Croatia. The funds were invested in the establishment of the national human milk bank, providing financial support aid to foster families with the youngest children, providing equipment for all maternity wards in Croatia, equipment of sensory cabinets and providing sensory therapy training for children with disabilities, supporting the establishment of day care and psychosocial support for children with disabilities and support for positive parenting in areas where such services are least accessible or absent. In 2022, with the support of numerous partners and donors, UNICEF provided almost 150,000 EUR for the implementation of the programme to support the mental health of children in schools (PoMoZi Da), which will benefit more than 25.000 primary school pupils and secondary school students.

Media contacts

Morana Tuškan
Communication Associate


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