The participant of UPSHIFT Youth Workshop Jelena woke Plužine

Young people can change the world

Tina Dimić Raičević
Jelena in front of the wallpaper in the Culture club in Plužine
UNICEF Montenegro / Duško Miljanić / 2019

17 April 2019

PLUŽINE, 15 APRIL 2019 – When young people join forces and start things going, wonderful things can happen. This has been the case in Plužine, a small town in the north of Montenegro, a town whose current population is slightly over three thousand and which is known for having the most elderly population in Montenegro.

The young townspeople had been deprived of any activities to fill their free time with, until a young and outspoken girl and her friends decided to move and change that.

Jelena with her friends in the Culture Club in Plužine
UNICEF Montenegro / Duško Miljanić / 2019
Jelena with her friends in the Culture Club in Plužine in March 2019

Her name is Jelena Mitrić. Although she is only 16 years old, when you talk to her, you feel as if you are talking to a real leader.

Our story started during a regular afternoon gathering. My friend Sara saw an advertisement for UPSHIFT on the Kreaktivacija web portal, sent us all the link and we immediately knew that this was the right challenge for us. Our original idea was to establish a press-publishing station, aimed at helping the development of Plužine’s cultural content, but then we changed the idea completely and we ended up being the founders of the Cultural Club in Plužine.

Jelena Mitrić, the establisher of the Culture Club in Plužine

She explained that they had intentionally opted for establishing the Cultural Club, and not a youth club, because Plužine is known for having elderly people, more than 50% of the total number of inhabitants, and that they wanted to help the integration of the young and the old population.

She points out that their experience at the intensive, three-day UPSHIFT workshop, during which 10 selected teams learned how to go through all the important steps – from identifying the problem to the design of an innovative solution – was very helpful.

UPSHIFT taught us about the importance of teamwork. When we learned that we would get the funds to realize our idea, we were very excited and happy.

Jelena Mitrić, the establisher of the Culture Club in Plužine

The trust vested into Jelena and her team immediately proved to be justified. The municipality provided the space for the club, they did everything to furnish it and start up the activities.

" We organized a day of board games, a small charity gig and thanks to it we collected funds for the medical treatment of a girl," says Jelena, adding that this is just the beginning and that plenty of actions are being planned for the coming period.

She says that this project proves that she can succeed in whatever she wants to do and that she just needs to be dedicated and persistent.

 

Jelena with her friend on the stairs in front of the Club
UNICEF Crna Gora / Duško Miljanić / 2019
Jelena with her friend on the stairs in front of the Club talking about the future activities of the Club in Plužine in March 2019

"I truly notice that I have changed a lot. I have become more serious, more responsible, and now I am approaching all tasks with much more commitment and energy," says Jelena.

The Culture Club has become a new place of gathering and socializing for young people in Plužine. They are now exchanging ideas about new projects there, but they also use it as a forum to discuss the daily challenges they face, from those related to school to romantic ones.

"We spend every free moment in the club. We listen to music, we sometimes watch a movie, sometimes we use it as a study room. I am happy because the club has become our favourite place," says Jelena.

Jelena believes that one can only inspire with one’s personal example and by doing good things for oneself and for one’s community.

I would invite my peers to be active in the fields of their interest, to keep learning, to believe in themselves, and never to give up.

Jelena Mitrić, the establisher of the Culture Club in Plužine

This success story is an example of how young people can change the world. Jelena and her friends have already changed their corner of the world – the town of Plužine. She is convinced that this is just the beginning of her journey.