Festival “From country to Ukraine” (Z krayiny v Ukrainu) took place in 11 cities of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Dnipropetrovsk regions in summer 2016. The festival’s motto was “People change people”. Festival activities included master-classes, concerts and lectures. The project aimed to consolidate and motivate local communities to be active, help them bring the spirit of unity and support. It is also to popularize Ukrainian culture in their cities and towns. Mariupol was one of the festival locations. An idea emerged in the city to revitalize the stadium and a sports playground. According to the organizers, these steps will also encourage development of sports in Mariupol.
Kyiv, October 11, 2016. School no.57 is one of the objects that made local activists consolidate their efforts. It is located in Skhidny (eastern) district of the city that came under “Grad” attack of Russia-backed militants back in January 2015. Two Grad rockets landed in the school courtyard then, luckily there were no casualties.
According to the activists even before that local infrastructure was leaving much to be desired. “There are no places for leisure activities, just houses and shops. The stadium was in a very poor condition,” said Oleksiy Leontiev, participant of the “From country to Ukraine” festival, project team member speaking via Skype from Mariupol at Ukraine Crisis Media Center (UCMC) as part of UCMC’s project “Spokesperson of peaceful life” implemented under support by the Foreign Affairs Ministry of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Thanks to the grant money received last year on a competitive basis at the “From country to Ukraine” festival local community installed new sports equipment near the school no.57 in Mariupol. Next year the stadium’s complete reconstruction will start.
It all started with the schoolchildren’s initiative
It all started at the initiative of the “SunScreen” rock band – students of the high school no.57 who could not keep silently watching the neglected stadium. On October 10, 2015 they held a rehearsal on the there. At their concert, they drew attention of children and adults to the problem as well as collected 500 signatures to appeal to local authorities asking to renovate the stadium. Later “SunScreen” took part in the competition at the “From country to Ukraine” festival that was offering 60,000 UAH as a prize. The students submitted the project for reconstruction of the stadium and won.
First achievements: renovation of the sports ground
Further budget estimations proved that quality renovation requires much bigger funds – at least 4 million UAH. That’s why the festival team suggested starting from installing street sports facilities near the school. The sports ground is operational now. The grant money covered major costs, however 20 per cent was provided by active community members. Many of them brought construction materials, noted Oleksiy Semanin, participant of the “From country to Ukraine” festival.
Twenty activists of the festival team as well as about 500 active community members of Skhidny district contributed to construction of the sports ground. Local authorities also joined the project.
Reconstruction of the stadium is to start next spring
Reconstruction of the stadium itself was rescheduled to spring 2017. The money is supposed to be provided from the local-level budget. It is a considerable victory for the activists as from the very beginning only small-scale reconstruction was planned for 2019, while what is scheduled for spring 2017 comes as complete renovation of the stadium.
Activists have addressed international donors asking them to support their initiative.
Community is the force to change the city
According to the activists one of the most important achievements is that people started believing in their ability to actually change something in their own city. “It is not so important who we are in this life, which social stratum we come from, it is important that we do see the problems and we are trying to address them with our own efforts. It is wonderful that local authorities have noticed that. We are ready to cooperate,” emphasized Yevhen Popov, festival participant.
“We have changed and decided not to stop at what has been achieved. We will keep uniting the new people around, putting new goals and searching for the ways to implement them,” added Oleksiy Semanin. Activists are determined to implement other projects in the future.
About the festival
Festival “From country to Ukraine” is a travelling cultural, educational, mobile and interactive platform that enhances development of local urban communities by uniting, training and motivating them to implement new projects.