Volunteers run educational programs for children with disabilities in the frontline area in Ukraine


Organizations work with children with disabilities and children without parental care in cooperation with charity foundation “Dity Veselky”, which also works with school teachers and doctors in the area. 

Kyiv, September 27, 2016. Among the charity organizations that work with children from the near-front area there are ones that chose assistance to most vulnerable groups – children with disabilities as the focus of their work. Representatives of the volunteer union “Kryla” (wings –  eng.) and of the charity foundation “Dity Veselky” spoke about their organizations’ activities via Skype at Ukraine Crisis Media Center (UCMC) in framework of UCMC project “Spokesperson of peaceful life” implemented with support of the Foreign Affairs Ministry of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Activities for children with developmental disabilities

Charity foundation “Dity Veselky” studies international best practices of work with children with developmental disabilities (including autism, the Down syndrome, speech disorder) and holds activities for them at a center in Severodonetsk, Luhansk region. “Eighteen people attend the classes. We physically cannot host more as the classes are individual. A total of 55 persons aged from 2,5 to 14 years are registered with our center, major part of them are 5-7 year olds,” said Natalia Abramova, director of “Dity Veselky”, mother to a son with autism from Severodonetsk. Activities are offered to children from Severodonetsk, Rubizhne, Lysychansk and adjacent towns. Before the war people from other regions and from Russia used to come to the center.

The foundation also organises educational work with teachers from local schools and with doctors, to raise public awareness on the issue and to enhance understanding and tolerant attitude to children with special needs. Currently there are two specialized learning classes at schools. Abramova noted that the city authorities provided the foundation with inexpensive premises for rent, other than that there is no particular support from regional or city level administration.

Travel and educational programs for children with disabilities

This year the foundation organized a leisure camp for children who attend the classes in the center, a total of 14 families participated in it. The money – UAH 35 thousand, was collected through an international crowdfunding platform with the support of French association “Solidarity France – Ukraine”. “We signed a deal with private recreational facilities in Kreminne – it is a nice place, there is a large pine forest and a lake. We gave each family a separate room,” said Abramova.

The organization plans to keep organizing similar camp programs in the future. According to Abramova it is necessary as children with special needs have no other chances to travel: all exchange and leisure programs foresee that a child travels without parents. It is not possible for children with developmental disabilities. Majority of those who took part in the camp program last summer had never travelled outside their city before. “My biggest dream is to have an all-Ukrainian rehabilitation program for children with developmental disabilities,” she explained.

Over the summer 2016 volunteer union “Kryla” organized travel programs for over 200 children with disabilities and children without parental care who reside on the liberated territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Children visited Kyiv’s theatres, museums, cultural and historic sites. “We chose talented and creative children, organized concerts where they performed in several schools of Kyiv including the Ivan Bohun military lyceum. We also organized an exhibition of their art works at the Hetmanate museum,” said Yaroslava Tokar, head of board at “Kryla” volunteer union. Another group of children traveled to the Carpathians and to Kirovohrad region.

Part of the children went abroad – to France, Greece and Georgia. A French charity organization helped arrange the trip to France. “The program’s added value is that children from de-occupied territories and children with disabilities lived together in the host families. They always managed to find common language and to become friends,” noted Tokar.