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Children discuss inclusion with Ambassadors

KOLAŠIN, OCTOBER 30, 2010 – Within the “It’s about ability” campaign, more than 30 children and young people from Kolasin, Mojkovac, Berane, Bijelo Polje and Podgorica met in Kolasin with Government officials and senior diplomats from the EU Delegation to Montenegro, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy, FYR Macedonia, Slovakia, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the United Nations for an inter-generational dialogue on inclusion. In a lively, warm and poignant exchange, participants shared experiences, hopes, and made concrete recommendations to break down barriers and change social norms towards children with disability.

Following a two day workshop led by the NGO Centre for Child Rights, with support from UNICEF, the children and young people came prepared to ask questions and learn about how other countries have supported the inclusion of children with disability in homes, schools and communities.

How does your country support inclusion of children with disabilities? Are there media programmes with children with disabilities in your countries? How much are child rights respected in your country? What are the most serious issues that you are dealing with? Do you have violence and discrimination against children and how do you deal with it? How can you influence our politicians to provide social inclusion and education for all children in Montenegro? - were some of the many questions that Montenegro’s children asked to the Ambassadors today.

British Ambassador to Montenegro, Katherine Knight Sands

The British Ambassador to Montenegro, Katherine Knight Sands, talking about building an inclusive society in Montenegro referred to the journey that the UK itself has been through to develop a full range of services to support inclusion of disability into schools and communities. She confirmed to the children that in the UK there are indeed materials for children who are visually impaired, including through use of new technologies as well as books in Braille. “I hope Montenegro will continue to make very good progress on this road of inclusion and antidiscrimination in order to meet the EU standards in the next few years.” she said

UNICEF Montenegro Representative Noala Skinner and Lazar Dragojevic

One of the children asked if UNICEF would support printing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Braille alphabet.  “Yes, we will. We printed the Convention on the Rights of the Child in Braille last year and I promise you that we will do the same for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability next year,” responded UNICEF Montenegro Representative Noala Skinner.

Miljan Otasevic addressing the audience

Miljan Otasevic appealed to everyone to stop calling children with disabilities “children with special needs.” “Every child has some special need and we are no different. I would really like people to call us children with disabilities.”

Italian Ambassador Sergio Barbanti

Italian Ambassador Sergio Barbanti invited children to visit the Italian Embassy soon in order to continue today’s discussion about the creation of an inclusive society in Montenegro. “Today, this was a remarkable example of being inclusive and as we know in life examples matter very much. The road ahead is what has been indicated here today.” said Mr. Barbanti.

In an intervention where he described the historical struggle and recent progress of the United States towards civil rights and inclusion, Ben Lowenthal of the US Embassy talked about his personal experience, and paid tribute to parents of children with disability, the “unsung heroes”.

Clive Rumbold, Acting Head of the EU Delegation to Montenegro said that from the point of view of European Union, inclusiveness and anti discrimination are key principles at the core of EU existance as an organization. “For us they are the centre of our approach to Montenegro and they are at the centre of what Montenegro has to achieve to draw closer to the European Union. That’s why we very much support this campaign. The slogan of the campaign is ‘It's About Ability’, and that goes to the centre of the thinking of European Union,’’ said Rumbold.

Acting Head of the EU Delegation to Montenegro Clive Rumbold listens to Dijana Lukovac

UNICEF and the Government of Montenegro organized the meeting in partnership with the Centre for Child Rights with the aim of promoting active participation of children with and without disabilities in the Montenegrin society. “We listen to you and when we hear good ideas, we follow through,” concluded UNICEF Montenegro Representative Noala Skinner.



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