Montenegro’s Prime Minister Igor Luksic and UNICEF Representative Benjamin Perks today unveiled the impact of the groundbreaking campaign It’s about ability promoting inclusion of children with disabilities into society.
Launched in September 2010 by the Prime Minister, the Head of the EU Delegation and UNICEF, the campaign aimed to give a human face – a child’s face – to inclusion.
“Through the It’s about ability campaign and with parents and other members of society, we have created a social family for children with disabilities,” Prime Minister Igor Luksic said at a packed National Theatre where the result of a post campaign survey was presented. “The results and the continuity of the campaign make me personally very happy because we will further create new opportunities for the full inclusion of children with disabilities into our society.”
More than three quarters of citizens have seen the campaign.The children`s involvement and the partnership with over 100 national and international organizations made it possible to overcome obstacles and change mindsets. A knowledge, attitudes and practices survey conducted in November 2011 assessed the impact of the campaign. The findings of this nationally representative survey with a sample of 1,000 households showed that:
Many people say the reason why they have changed their minds was because throughout the campaign, children with disabilities took an active part as vital members of society: as youth advocates for inclusion, as athletes, musicians, dancers, friends, students, daughters, sons, brothers and sisters.
It was evident too at the presentation ceremony. A17-year-old student from the Institute for Education and Rehabilitation of Children with Disability, Nevena Kovacevic, was the moderator of the special event in the National Theatre. She welcomed the guests on behalf of all Montenegrin children.
“This is the first time for me to be a moderator of a special event like this one. I printed out all the notes in Braille so that I can read them in case I forget what I was going to say. But it all went really well and it felt great,” she said afterwards.
UNICEF Representative Benjamin Perks underlined the importance of linking the campaign with child welfare system reform, inclusive education and action from local government and civil society organizations. He used the example of Northern Montenegrin Municipality of Pljevlja where they expanded inclusive classes, established a Day Care Centre for children with disabilities and increased social work interventions to support families.
“It can be a powerful, powerful tool for changing a situation of children with disability in our society,” Perks said. “What you can see is the increase of the lifecycle of the It’s about ability campaign, a nine fold increase in the number of a parents bringing children forward for inclusive education from 2010 compared to previous years.”
A song It’s about ability composed by UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Rambo Amadeus was launched at this occasion. Ballet students and children with disabilities danced together to this theme song, while a chorus of children with speech and hearing impairments performed the verses in sign language.
People also viewed a photo exhibition of prominent young athletes with disabilities from the Special Olympics and Paralympics and were able to meet and talk to them at event.
The campaign will continue in 2012 in parallel with child welfare and education sector reform, so all children can have an opportunity to develop and reach their full potential in a more equitable Montenegro.