A local Special Olympics Unified Sports® volleyball team was put through its paces as Ms. Susan Fritz, Mission Director, USAID Serbia and Montenegro, watched the training from the sidelines in Krusevac on 1 December, 2012. Ms. Fritz was attending the practical session of a two-day seminar that was organized as part of the “Inclusion for All” project supported by the United States Agency for International Development. The 18-month “Inclusion for All” project promotes democratic principles, gender equality and active citizenship which advance the rights of persons with intellectual disabilities.
Project activities include a series of seminars, such as the one in Krusevac, designed to give residents in 12 communities in Serbia and five communities in Montenegro an overview of the capacities of people with intellectual disabilities, particularly youth, and discuss strategies to encourage their inclusion into society. In addition to the seminars, new Unified teams that engage youths with and without intellectual disabilities as equals are being developed.
“The U.S. Agency for International Development supports this initiative with great pleasure and considers the issue of social inclusion as very important for the development of civil society,” Ms. Fritz said. “USAID may have provided Special Olympics with funding for organizing this seminar, but without the Special Olympics Serbia team and its hard work and dedication, none of this would be possible. Your work is greatly appreciated and invaluable,” she said.
In addition to athletes, parents, teachers and volunteers who participated in the seminar, Ms. Fritz was joined by city officials Mr. Nikola Petrovic, Deputy Mayor in charge of sports and Ms. Zorica Jovanovic, Head of the Office for Social Services. “We try to give our full support to all Special Olympics Serbia projects and especially those that focus on inclusion,” said Mr. Petrovic.
The seminar was reported extensively in local newspapers and on local television.