After the March event in Bijelo Polje, the Municipality of Bar hosted an Inter-generational dialogue on inclusion of children with disabilities. The event was organised by UNICEF and the NGO Centre for Child Rights, within the broader, social mobilisation and awareness raising campaign – “It’s About Ability”, launched in September 2010. The Campaign was created, in response to the findings of the survey among the population of Montenegro, showing 42% of adults have discriminatory attitudes towards children with disabilities.
“Changing attitudes can be a long and continuous process, and needs to go hand in hand with implementing and adopting the right policies and practices. In order to foster a real change, we need to involve all stakeholders into the process. This inter-generational dialogue is an ideal opportunity, bringing together the rights holders and decision makers. This is why is essential for all of us today to open our minds and hearts, as only together we can make a difference.” said Ms Noala Skinner, UNICEF Representative in Montenegro, at the opening.
Besides the officials from municipality of Bar, Inter-generational dialogue gathered some 30 children with and without disabilities from primary schools of Ulcinj and Bar, senior representatives from the ministries of Health, Education and Labour and Social Welfare, as well as the local NGOs, parents, media and service providers.
OneMinutesJr movies, produced by the children with disabilities, initiated discussion around the topics such discrimination, inclusion, friendship and children in the media. One of the campaign’s many young activists, Ksenija Brajovic, moderated the dialogue and made sure from the beginning that every participant had the chance to speak up.
Dimitrije from Bar asked municipality officials if they have a plan to adapt the new sports area to be accessible to children with disabilities. Blerta from Ulcinj asked why the Day care Centre for children with disabilities in Ulcinj has not yet been officially recognised as a public institution. Irfan and Maja wanted to know more about the Local Action Plans for Children and how they can support inclusion of children with disabilities.
The Municipality and Government officials said they are aware of the issues and their impact on children and their families. Some of them were already addressed; solutions were proposed and are in procedure.
Children also presented their initiatives to improve the inclusion of children with disabilities in their local communities. The low cost, feasible and sustainable intervention proposals, such as play areas accessible to children with disabilities, or organisation of workshops and events, aiming to gather children with disabilities and their peers in the schools, were sincerely appreciated by the adults, who committed to support these interventions.
As Ms. Jadranka Lakicevic, Deputy Minister of Health, concluded, the adults of Montenegro were rewarded with an opportunity to learn something from the children. This is why the dialogue, which started in Bijelo Polje, and now in Bar should spread all over the country.