Ivan Vuksanovic, ’07, Alumni Coordinator for Montenegro and President of the Board of MAYAA
On Saturday, April 20, A-SMYLE alumni volunteered at a Special Olympics event in Bar, Montenegro. This event was organized by the Special Olympics Montenegrin Chapter of the organization for children and youth with different kinds of intellectual disabilities.
Special Olympics participants competed in athletic activities and were divided into different categories based on their age and ability.
Our alumni were in charge of helping the contestants at this event in different ways. They spent time with participants while they prepared to compete, gave them snacks and water, fixed their numbers on their jerseys, and escorted them around the venue.
“This experience was unlike any other because, for most of us, this was a chance to meet kids and grown-ups with intellectual disabilities for the first time. This event was for them, and hopefully they enjoyed it. The look in their eyes and happiness while receiving medals was something that words cannot describe. All of us were very happy and grateful that we took a part in this kind of happening, and we look forward to volunteering at many more,” said Mina Radonjic, a ‘12 A-SMYLE alumna who volunteered at the event.
As with all Special Olympics sports, this event offered athletes the opportunity to learn through skill development and competitive settings and to be involved in large social settings.
This was a first Special Olympics event our alumni were involved with. Cooperation between our organizations was established recently, and alumni will be volunteering at the similar events in the future.
This is one of the events A-SMYLE alumni have organized in Montenegro recognition of Global Youth Service Day.
Alumni have also organized two large food drives to collect food and other items for socially disadvantaged people in Podgorica and Herceg Novi, in partnership with Food Bank Foundation. There will also be a restoration of the school library in Bijelo Polje, a clean-up action in Bar, and we will be volunteering at the larger-scale Special Olympics event in May.