This year, UNICEF ib Belarus celebrated the Internationa; Day of sport for development and peace in an unusual way: participating in the ceremony of taking the torch relay of the II European Games 2019 in Minsk. At the solemn event on April 6, the torch, the relay route, the torchbearers' sportswear were presented.

UNICEF

As a non-profit partner of the European Games on social heritage, UNICEF participated in the ceremony. Moreover, the UNICEF volunteer, Julia Stepnyak, became a torchbearer.

Among the famous torchbearers were famous Belarusians, prominent figures of sports, culture and art:

- four-time Olympic champion in rapier fencing, honored master of sports of the USSR, honored coach of the Republic of Belarus and the only Olympic champion among women in individual competitions in the history of Soviet fencing, Elena Belova;

- the author of the project "Mobile navigation for people with disabilities INFO", team member of the marathon "Angels' wings", UNICEF-volunteer, Julia Stepniak;

- theater and film actor, film director, people's artist of Belarus, Laureate of the State prize of the USSR and the State prize of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Gostyukhin;

- motivational coach, sports master, member of the Paralympic swimming team of the Republic of Belarus, Alexey Talay.

UNICEF team in Belarus is really proud of  it's volunteer, Julia Stepniak, to participate in the torch relay as a torchbearer.

— It is difficult to describe in words the emotions that you feel when you stand like this with a torch in front of you! I am extremely happy to represent The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), a non-profit partner of the European games on social heritage, in the torch relay.

Out of the thousands of children I stand here, despite the fact, that I move in a wheelchair. But believe me, this does not prevent me from studying in college, implementing projects, doing sports and being a UNICEF volunteer — says Yulia.

I am grateful to UNICEF for the opportunity to share my life experiences and to show on my owm example, that all children are able to overcome the barriers on the road to a full participation in society, if they are given a chance for it.

You can also change someone's life, giving a child with a disability a chance to play sports! After all, sport is not only about medals!

Every child — with or without special needs — can achieve his or her goals and plans in life. The main thing is to give us the opportunity to realize our potential. In sports, it is an opportunity to be part of a physical education lesson, the opportunity to go to sport clubs, participate in the Minsk half-marathon and other sports events.

The relay, overall, will be attended by 450 people, 100 volunteers and 10 firekeepers. The relay will start on may 3 in Rome, the flame of the II European games will rise to the highest point of Europe – mount Mont Blanc, visit the sights of the countries on the way of the relay, and on may 12 will arrive in Belarus.

During the II European games in Minsk, UNICEF interactive activations will work in the fan zones, where all without exception (including children with disabilities) will be able to play, communicate and have fun under the supervision of trained volunteers. And parents will be able to find useful tips about responsible parenting and gain practical skills to include children with different opportunities in sports.