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It’s About Ability in Andrijevica, Berane and Rozaje

© UNICEF Montenegro
Nusret Kalac, Mayor of Rozaje addressing the participants

ANDRIJEVICA, ROZAJE, BERANE, 28 October – 1 November, 2010 - The "It's About Ability" campaign took to the road again this week as the UNICEF Representative, Noala Skinner, together with senior Government and municipal officials representatives of parents associations, children and young people spoke in special sessions of local parliaments in Andrijevica,  Berane and Rozaje. The sessions followed the one held in Bijelo Polje on October 15th, and focused on inclusion of children with disabilities. They provided an important opportunity to discuss progress, challenges, obstacles and possibilities that decision makers, parents and children with disabilities themselves have to face in their daily lives.
At each of the gatherings large numbers of local parliamentarians, school directors, representatives of commissions for orientation of children with disability and other prominent local figures had a chance to learn more about the “It’s About Ability” campaign and its aims, to watch videos on inclusion, some of which had been made by children with disability, and to offer their thoughts and opinions on inclusion.
The videos showed children with and without disabilities working together, developing ideas together and implementing projects together. Without barriers, without prejudice, without discrimination.  However, as the Mayor of Rozaje, Mr Nusret Kalac stated, the reality on the ground can be very different. He spoke of the very painful decision that some families take to keep their children at home because they fear that  they would not be accepted by the outside world. There has traditionally been fear of public admittance of disability;  there has been  widespread discrimination;  and of lack of awareness and upport for  children with disability to be able to live a normal life.  But things are starting to change for the better, and the campaign and its ever growing momentum is challenging social norms to their very core.
 The Mayor of Rozaje issued a call to action and a change of attitudes. He said that parents shouldn’t be ashamed of their children, and echoed the messages of potential and ability illustrating that in many countries children with disabilities are included in education systems and are often successful citizens, politicians, and businessmen.
Mr. Kalac mentioned the aim to open a day care centre as a response to the need of support to families with children with disabilities. He also mentioned the importance of the work of the commission for orientation of children with disabilities and the significant role it plays in ensuring inclusion by recommending attendance in schools. The issue of discrimination and fear of public acceptance came back repeatedly in Andrijevica and Berane, where the representatives of the associations of parents of children with disabilities also referred to the need for greater financial and emotional support in their daily lives.

© UNICEF Montenegro
UNICEF Representative Noala Skinner and Minister of Health Miodrag Radunovic in Berane

In Berane, the Minister of Health, Dr Miodrag Radunovic reminded the audience of the cruciality of intersectoral cooperation at every level, from prevention of abandonment to social inclusion. The complexity of the issues regarding disabilities requires collaboration from all sectors of government and society, including education and social welfare and full engagement at community level of all actors involved. Minister Radunovic once again stressed the importance of inclusive education, the role of the health sector in providing every child with the right start, and the impact of positive attitudes. The mayor of Berane, Mr. Vuka Golubovic was proud to remind the local parliament that with UNICEF support, the municipality was one of the firsts to develop a Local Plan of Action for children and that by a decision of the local government priority in allocation of resources is given to non-governmental organizations working on issues of inclusion of children.



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