On November 24, 2021, the opening conference for the project “Snina a city of equal opportunities for all” was held in the historic premises of the manor house in Snina. This project is supported by a non-refundable financial contribution, in the total amount of 877,050 euros from the Norwegian Financial Mechanism and the state budget of the Slovak Republic within the program area “Local development, poverty eradication and inclusion of Roma”.
The main goal of the conference was to present the project itself, the project partners and cooperating participating organizations to the invited guests, professionals and the general public. Due to the current pandemic situation, the conference was held in physical and online form in accordance with anti-pandemic measures and the Decree of the Office of Public Health. Through the online transmission on the Facebook page of the city of Snina, the general public could also participate in the conference.
The opening speech belonged to the project coordinator Mgr. Katarína Javorská, who accompanied the presenters and guests throughout the conference, as the moderator of the event. After the ceremonial opening, the present guests were welcomed with their speeches by the mayor of the city Snina Ing. Daniela Galandová and His Excellency the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway to Slovakia Terje Theodor Nervik. The conference program continued with the presentation of the project itself by the head of the strategic development department of the City of Snina, Mgr. Erika Jankajová, MBA, Phd., who is also the project manager. The end of the presentation was enriched by the reconstruction of the project solution of the Open Sport Center building, by Marian Kováč, representative of the company R-PROJEKT, the construction of which is one of the realized investments of the project. In addition to the function of a grandstand and an internal space for sports and community activities, this building will be completely barrier-free and enriched with green solutions in the form of the installation of tanks for collecting rainwater, which will irrigate the green wall.
The conference program continued with the presentation of the project guarantor Ing. Ján Hera, who brought the guests and the public closer to inclusive approaches at the local level. In his presentation, he mainly focused on the need to develop a local strategy for the inclusion of Roma and the presentation of support mechanisms for local inclusive approaches in the field of education and employment.
After a short break, the conference program continued with the presentation of the Norwegian project partner Frelsesarmeen (Salvation Army Norway) represented by Wouter Johannes Van Gooswilligen and Bo Christoffer Brekke. Through the presentation entitled “Every person should get a real opportunity”, the guests present and the public could familiarize themselves with the goals and activities of the Salvation Army and its contribution within the project, in which they will be able to share their experiences in the field of social inclusion and integration.
Other partners of the project include the Roma Center Ternipen, which was presented as part of the conference program in her presentation by PhDr. Zuzana Kotlárová, PhD.. In the presentation “Our mission is the education of children and youth” the history, activities and achievements of this civic association were presented. As part of the project, he will participate in the creation and implementation of the Strategy and Action Plan of Inclusion.
The program continued with a lecture by prof. PhDr. René Lužica, ArtD, who impressed the guests with his lecture on “Chapters from the history of Roma”. In his presentation, the professor mainly focused on the history of the naming of members of the Roma ethnic group from the point of view of historical periods and the territory they inhabited and still inhabit.
The conclusion of the first part of the program belonged to the partner of the project, the Slovak Salvation Army in Slovakia, represented by Maj. Josef Knoflíčk, who presented the mission, activities and projects in the field of social inclusion in Slovakia in his presentation “Perceive with the heart, not with the eyes”.
The second part of the conference program included the presentations of cooperating organizations participating in the project in the field of social inclusion, community work, or work with children and youth. The Kotva Community Center from the village of Ulič was the first to present itself, where in a presentation on the topic “Creative work for inclusion”, Mgr. Jana Wienerová and Mgr. Ing Anna Harkotová, presented history, activities and activities with the Roma community and the majority within the framework of social inclusion in the village of Ulič.
In this part, the program continued with the presentation of the Low Threshold Social Service for Children and Family in the city of Snina, which was delivered by PhDr. Ivana Lechanová in a presentation entitled “Alternative path to inclusion”, where she presented the vision, mission, forms of services provided for individuals and groups.
The program was enriched by a dynamic lecture on “Activities of the City Football Club Snina and its development”, which was presented by sports instructor Ing. Tomas Kepič. Through the presentation, the guests and the public were able to learn about the history, achievements, and especially the work with children and youth in the field of social inclusion and integration. The presentation was enriched with short videos that captured the work with children and their joy from joint training and sports achievements.
Samuel Andrejčík, multiple medalist from the Paralympics, a native of Snina, addressed the guests of the conference and the public in the form of a video. With his presentation entitled “If something is challenging or difficult, it does not mean that it is impossible”, he encouraged the athlete to overcome obstacles and the motivation to persevere, improve and perform at his best. To remember why we set out on a given journey to achieve our goal, and not to give up.
The end of the conference program was a panel discussion on the exhibition dedicated to the topic of the Holocaust with the apt title “A Country That Never Forgets”. The moderator of the panel discussion was Michal Smetanka, who at the beginning of the panel discussion introduced the authors and the purpose of the exhibition itself. The guests of the discussion were the mayor of the city Snina Daniela Galandová, active citizen Ms. Mária Radváková, regional historian Mr. Levický, and Mr. Jozef Lojan, director of the Church United School of St. Cyril and Methodius in Snin. The discussion was a stimulating and inspiring conclusion to the conference itself. After the conference, Mr. Michal Smetanka invited the guests present to see the mentioned exhibition in the premises of the mansion.