From this week on, BTC City Ljubljana’s Shopping Arena A will host an exhibition of the winning artworks created as part of the Encouraging Friendship project, which the Society for Sustainable Development Sobivanje has carried out with the support of the BTC company for the ninth year in a row. This year’s record-breaking edition of the project, which encourages kindergarten and primary school kids to create friendship-themed artworks, has seen the participation of 22,465 children and 1,780 mentors and coordinators from 339 kindergartens and primary schools despite the limiting circumstances. This is the first time that the project will conclude with the publication of a special book – The Book of Friendship.

The Encouraging Friendship project, which sees the participation of primary schools and kindergartens from all over Slovenia each year, uses a contest to strengthen two important values among kids – creativity and friendship – and by combining both, it also raises awareness of the importance of cultivating good interpersonal relationships. This year’s contest took place between 19 January and 2 March. At a time when personal contact was limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the project brought together a record-breaking number of participants: 22,465 children from 339 schools and kindergartens from all over Slovenia. In the scope of the project, the children made drawings, photos, and other friendship-themed artworks. The best of them will be on display in BTC City Ljubljana’s Shopping Arena A until mid-May 2021.

“At the BTC company, we are proud to have once again supported this project, which brings a positive message and motivational energy into our lives regardless of the current limiting and uncertain circumstances. We are especially happy to see that participation numbers have reached record highs this year. The kids have shone a bright light on the special circumstances and offered us a joyful view of the world through their many artworks. Bearing in mind the popular saying “Young people make the world go round”, it is especially heartening, as the project has shown, that young people look at life in the spirit of friendship, cooperation and good relationships,” said Miha Mermal, Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Sustainability Officer at the BTC company, upon the project’s conclusion.

This school year is unusual for everyone. It is unusual for the children, who had to learn remotely for much of it, as well as for all the teachers and kindergarten educators, who had to tackle the new working conditions head-on. Given these circumstances, the organisers have decided to publish a special book at the project’s conclusion, called The Book of Friendship. It will contain photos of this year’s artworks submitted by the participating institutions and the participants’ thoughts on friendship. These will be meaningfully linked together with the help of relationship expert Dr. Katarina Kompan Erzar and entertaining games for parents and children. The publication of the book will also act as a special announcement for the following school year, when the project will celebrate its 10-year anniversary.

As Borut Petelin, MA, president of the Society for Sustainable Development Sobivanje, emphasised upon the opening of the exhibition, “At Sobivanje, we pay special attention to social relationships. We are aware that coexistence and good relationships form the basis of living a quality life. This is becoming all the more evident in the current epidemiological situation, which affects us all. With Encouraging Friendship, we encourage children, parents, mentors and project coordinators to think about and engage in activities related to interpersonal relationships. We want to remind everyone about the significance of warmth, love, and mutual help among people, all of which are inextricably linked with friendship. It seems that this is a particularly current topic in these times, since a record number of kids and mentors are taking part in the project. This is also why we aren’t putting a special spotlight on the winning schools and kindergartens this year, as we did the previous years – given the circumstances and the record-breaking numbers, all the participants are winners in our eyes.”

The Encouraging Friendship project is part of the School of Coexistence, which comprises projects from different fields of sustainable development and strives toward a fairer society and a better quality of life for all people. The BTC company has been doing business in the spirit of sustainable growth and social responsibility for years now. In addition to supporting the Encouraging Friendship project, it also takes part in various other projects, cooperating with partners to create countless opportunities for a better tomorrow and a brighter future for everybody.


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Encouraging Friendship exhibition

PHOTO: Studio Bomba