Over the Sunny Bridge to Happy Childhood
Livno recently got inclusive kindergarten, where all children, despite the differences, can grow up together
The building of the former Regional Museum in Livno has recently acquired new appearance, new purpose, and new residents. In the yard itself, one can find things which are not typical of a museum – swings, merry-go-rounds, slides and seesaws, all in bright colours. On the walls inside, instead of grave portraits of historical figures, there is children’s art. Museum artefacts are replaced by toys, and instead of curators silently taking visitors through museum collections, kindergarten teachers take care of children noisily running around. At a place where pictures from the history of Livno used to be, the town’s future is now growing up. Well, this is now the home of Sunčani Most (‘Sunny Bridge’) Kindergarten Livno. An initiative for founding an inclusive kindergarten where both children with and without difficulties could stay together came from the Austrian charity organization Diakoniewerk. The Municipality of Livno secured a facility – the building of the former Regional Museum which was then renovated through joint efforts of several partners. Funds for renovation were secured by the Municipality of Livno, Canton 10 Government, and through two projects: “Applying the Human Security Concept to Stabilize Communities in Canton 10” which is implemented by the four UN Agencies (UNDP, UNHCR, UNICEF and IOM) and “Green Economic Development” implemented by the UNDP. The building was thoroughly reconstructed: the roof was renovated, openings were rearranged, new façade was constructed, and the new sewerage system was installed. The interior was done by Diakoniewerk, to which the kindergarten was handed over to manage, and which will, along with the Municipality, finance its work. “This is the first kindergarten of this kind in Livno and as such it is that much more important. We are proud that we have facilitated the work of an institution of this kind in our town, where children with difficulties can spend time and associate with their peers who don’t have those difficulties, where they can grow up together, and become close to each other,” said Silvija Brčić, the Chief of Cabinet for the Mayor of Livno. The kindergarten is attended by 40 children aged three to six, separated into two groups. Each group must have at least two children with difficulties, thus creating inclusive environment where all children can develop their potentials without hindrance. Moreover, attendance free of charge is provided for children from seven families unable to afford it. “The work of the kindergarten is organized with the aim of improving the pedagogical standards of preschool education and care. Smaller number of children in the groups enables inclusion of children with difficulties. It is mandatory for each group to host at least two children with difficulties each year, and if the difficulties are mild the number can be increased,” Tina Mihaljević, the Principal, explains. Didactic materials and toys used by children are made from natural materials such as wood and healthy plastics. Moreover, the food for the children in the kindergarten is freshly prepared from healthy natural ingredients. The building is renovated in accordance with the energy efficiency standards. Thermal insulation façade is constructed, and the central heating system is powered by a pellet boiler. And last, but not the least, the opening of the kindergarten resulted in five new jobs. Securing better conditions of life, improving social services and other forms of support for vulnerable groups are just some of the goals of the “Applying the Human Security Concept to Stabilize Communities in Canton 10” project jointly implemented by UNDP, UNHCR, UNICEF and IOM agencies in partnership with Canton 10 Government, municipal authorities and civil society organizations. The project is funded by the UN Trust Fund for Human Security (UNTFHS).