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Young volunteers advocates for inclusive society in Pljevlja

PLJEVLJA, Montenegro, 16 December 2013 - International Volunteer Day was traditionally celebrated in Pljevlja through the ceremony organized by the Day Care Centre for children with disabilities. Together with the volunteers, children performed the anthem of the Day Care Centre in sign language. The play ‘Dragon with a Pigeon’s Heart’ was performed as well, together with various music and dance performances, and exhibitions of paintings and handicrafts were organized on this occasion.

Pljevlja’s volunteers celebrating International Volunteer Day - UNICEF Montenegro / 2013

On this occasion, Svetlana Dujović, Director of Day Care Centre Pljevlja, pointed out: “Our volunteers are our hope and our strength, since social inclusion is not only the matter of the socially endangered. Social inclusion is the matter of all of us, of the entire social community, as children with disabilities must be included in every segment of the society.”

During this year, more than 120 volunteers from 3 elementary and 2 high schools spent time playing with the children at Day Care Centre. These activities are part of the project ‘Pljevlja – the Inclusive City’, which is implemented by the Day Care Centre and local health, education and child protection institutions with support from UNICEF.

A research conducted for UNICEF this year among children and parents of Pljevlja showed that the activities of the volunteers’ club had a positive impact not only on the volunteers, but also on Pljevlja’s children with disabilities and their parents. All children made new friends, while parents learned new things about inclusion from the children and Pljevlja became a city that is much more open to all children.

Pljevlja’s volunteers celebrating International Volunteer Day - UNICEF Montenegro / 2013

Miloje Pupović, Mayor of Pljevlja, said that “no society has a future if it relies solely on those who work for salaries. Every society must rely on as many of its members as possible who of their own will should contribute to it. Volunteering is useful not only to those who are being helped, but also to volunteers who feel better due to the fact that they helped.”

According to the Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Predrag Bošković, with this noble volunteer work young people are contributing to the development of an inclusive society both in Pljevlja and the entire country. “Today, we cannot even talk about sports without volunteers. As you can see, these day care centres for children with disabilities too cannot be imagined without volunteers. For this reason, I am happy to read today this panel behind which says “Pljevlja – the Inclusive City”,” Bošković pointed out.

UNICEF reminded that Pljevlja and Bijelo Polje are pioneers of inclusion in Montenegro. “Within 4 years only, the number of children in Pljevlja who were brought before the Commission for Orientation, got the necessary certificates and were, thus, enrolled in the mainstream education system or in the Day Care Centre, which is a very important support service, has increased.”  Ana Zec, UNICEF Montenegro Programme Specialist said.

The Government of Montenegro, in cooperation with UNICEF and numerous partners from the international community, media, civil and private sector, has been building an inclusive society in Montenegro through the education and child protection systems reform, as well as through the campaign ‘It’s About Ability’. As a result, the number of children with disabilities who are included in the mainstream education system in Montenegro is 5 times higher today than 5 years ago.



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