Inclusive communities start with inclusive playgrounds
In Tajikistan, UNICEF empowers young people to be active agents of change and help build inclusive communities for all.
“Children with disabilities have an equal right to enjoy their childhoods as much as anybody else. I want to be the voice for these children.”
Parvona Solieva, 21, from Devashtich is a four-year student of the Khujand University. She has always been passionate about helping her community and its members, especially the most vulnerable such as children with disabilities.
In Parvona’s village, there were very few places for all children, including children with disabilities, to play. In many cases, children played in abandoned wastelands. And for children with disabilities, the situation was even more challenging - existing parks were not disability friendly. Parvona wanted to change things, but didn't know where to start.
One day, she and her peers were visited by a local NGO- a partner of the UNICEF-supported project ‘Adolescents-Partners for Sustainable Development’. Parvona and other students were trained on how to create innovative projects by identifying social problems and then devising solutions. Parvona actively participated in these seminars and was ready to take action. She decided to focus on something that had been bothering her for a long time - the lack of playgrounds and disability-friendly places for children in her community.
Some people in my community did not believe that I would be able to bring my idea to life. However, I managed to pitch my idea to the local government and the principal of one of the schools in Devashtich supported me in implementation.
In three years and with the help of her friends and the school administration, Parvona has transformed what was once a wasteland into a colourful and fun place- a playground with decorated walls, newly built benches, small plays and concerts are now organised regularly for all children to enjoy and participate.
Before I got involved in the UNICEF-supported project, I never thought that young people could help solve problems in society, but the results of our work together have completely changed my opinion. I feel empowered.”
Parvona says she has received many messages of gratitude from parents who are happy to see their children playing together and enjoying the playground. Parents also expressed their wish to see classrooms in the local school made accessible.
As for Parvona, she dreams of becoming a well-known and respected journalist in the country and continuing to be the voice of the children. She continues to encourage other youth people to stand up and make a difference for good causes.