Community centre for teens transforms life in Ukrainian village

Three Ukrainian students are transforming life for young people in their village by building a community centre, offering them the chance to socialize, learn and express themselves.

Ksenia Shepelenko
15 December 2019

Three Ukrainian students are transforming life for young people in their village by building a community centre, offering them the chance to socialize, learn and express themselves.

Natasha, Artem and Eduard first presented the project four months ago, as part of UNICEF’s UPSHIFT programme, which aims to empower a generation of change-makers.

Now, after a lengthy selection process, as well as training in project management and social innovation, the youngsters have put their plans into action in their home village of Toshkivka, Luhansk region.

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UNICEF

“Young people lived joyless lives in our village,” says Natasha Postolatieva, 19. “They had no place to spend their free time, to have fun – let alone for self-development. Children grow up very closed, dependent on gadgets and the internet, with no hobbies. We really wanted to change that.”

The centre, which forms part of the local secondary school, has been set up with the support of UNICEF and the Government of Japan.

“Some people may believe that the idea of ​​establishing the centre may be simple and trivial, but they need to understand that while many children have the environment conducive for development, hobbies, meetings or recreation, we live in different reality,” says team leader Natasha.

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UNICEF
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UNICEF

Ukraine’s six-year conflict has been devastating for the village of Toshkivka. Many buildings are abandoned or dilapidated, and there are no playgrounds or sports facilities. Until the centre, there were few opportunities for teenagers.

“Toshkivka is one of the settlements closest to the contact line,” explains Olena Galitsyna, UPSHIFT Ukraine representative. “There are no businesses there but for the mine. The mine is poor, and it cannot maintain the local culture centre financially. It was shut down, and few years later, there was a fire there.”

Now, thanks to the young UPSHIFT team, a creative space has appeared in Toshkivka.

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UNICEF

“Our school has become a kind of centre for creative youth and children,” says school principal Iryna Sokolova. “And in Toshkivka, we really have such children and youth. Our students have different hobbies – they are good at drawing, singing, playing music and even carving wood.”

The UPSHIFT team has already purchased musical instruments and equipment for the centre. Many students have now enrolled in music classes, hoping to learn guitar and piano.

At last, children here will be able to pursue their dreams.

“With the help of UPSHIFT, we have fulfilled the dreams of many children in our village,” says Iryna Sokolova, happily.

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UNICEF