Ukrainian youth club helps young people unite
A new youth club in Ukraine’s Rivne region is helping teenagers to learn new skills and find new friends, amid the ongoing war
Young people in the town of Zdolbuniv, Ukraine’s western Rivne region, are enrolling in a new ‘anti-school’, where they can learn about cyber security, volunteering and project management, as well as receive psychological support amid the ongoing war.
Fourteen-year-old Bohdan Brychuk, from the town of Zdolbuniv, has been attending the ‘Home’Yak’ school for over a year. He has loved learning new skills and finding new friends at a time of great uncertainty.
“We had training in debating skills,” he says, happily. “And now we are opening a debate club. I really want it. Our lecturer was so smart. It was a brainstorm for me.”
The Rivne anti-school project was created with the support of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). It was implemented within the framework of the ‘Trymai’ programme that is run by the YouthUp NGO.
“When someone comes to our event, we surround them with care and warmth,” says Anna Krymska, 22, a social media specalist who helps to run the school. “That’s why they don’t want to leave us anymore. First of all, everything depends on the environment in the space, as well as on the children and youth themselves. They come here to be heard and understood. They will never be judged here – any opinion has the right to exist. We respect each and every one.”
The project aims to prepare young people for adulthood through non-formal education, as well as to helping them adapt to the challenges of wartime. Staff organise training sessions on various topics, including journalism, public activism, first aid and the art of debate. Participants can even join the coordination council and have their own say on the project. The project is implemented with the support of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) via the KfW Development Bank
“We also talk about volunteering, media literacy, cyber security and project management,” says Anna. “Our ambitious youth already want to create projects, but do not yet have enough resources and experience. So, we teach them where to look for opportunities, how to raise funds, and so on.”
The space has also become a way to make new friends. For youngsters, this can be extremely important, especially for those who are internally displaced.
“In my hometown of Enerhodar, there was no such space for young people,” says Andrii Palets, 18, who moved to Zdolbuniv because of the war. “I come here to socialise. I already have friends here, like-minded people. It was interesting to hear about debates, volunteering and media literacy.”
There is even a psychologist available for individual sessions. And every Thursday, young people meet at an intellectual game club.
“Now I don’t see myself without this space,” says Anna. “Because I want the youth to develop. They are the driving force. Youth can move everything around. And thanks to them, we make our city better.”