03 October 2023

Dogs help children in Ukraine to cope with stress

Today, five-year-old sisters Eva and Milana have an appointment with their therapist at a metro station in Kharkiv, a city in northeast Ukraine. The therapist is just nine years old and her name is Julie. She is a golden retriever who has been helping children in Kharkiv overcome stress since the beginning of the full-scale war. As soon as Eva…, Five-year-old Eva and Milana with the dog Julie, UNICEF Five-year-old Eva and Milana with the dog Julie Image UNICEF Julie Image, Julie, UNICEF Eva, 5, with the dog Julie Image, Eva, 5, with the dog Julie, UNICEF Five-year-old Eva and Milana with the dog Julie Five-year-old Eva and Milana with the dog Julie Julie Eva, 5, with the dog Julie Canine-assisted therapy classes like these are held twice a week at the Spilno Child Spots, which are run at Kharkiv metro stations by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The classes are free of charge…, Helping to children to heal, Eva and Milana arrived in Kharkiv with their parents after fleeing Kherson, where intense fighting is taking place. The girls have cats and a dog back home. Eva misses her pets and loves to spend time with the animals at the Spilno Child Spot. "The dog's name is Snizhok (‘ snowball’) because he is snow-white and fluffy,” she says, sadly. Eva…, Finding safety underground, Recently, the fighting in Kharkiv has become intense again. Air raid sirens sound several times a day and each time it causes stress for children, who desperately need a safe place to shelter. Last night, Victoria and her seven-year-old daughter Adelina barely slept. "There was huge shelling at night,” says Victoria, who did not hesitate to come…, Adelina, 7, at the Spilno Child Spot, UNICEF Adelina, 7, at the Spilno Child Spot Image UNICEF Image Image UNICEF Adelina, 7, at the Spilno Child Spot Adelina, 7, at the Spilno Child Spot Image Spilno Child Spots have been operating in Kharkiv’s metro since last winter. They serve as a bomb shelter, but also as a place for games and learning, and sometimes as a home. Even during…, Overcoming stress and sadness, Trainer Natalia has lived in Kharkiv since the very first days of the full-scale war. While hiding in the metro with her family, she noticed how depressed the children around her were. She then came up with the idea to organise dog classes as therapy. "The first class was difficult both for me and my dogs,” she recalls. “Severe shelling occurred…