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Brightening the reality: street art at the social rehabilitation school in Kharkiv

© UNICEF/UKRAINE/2013/Y.Yurova
Children in the school together with Jullien Malland

Kharkiv, April 11, 2013 - Today 39 children at the Kharkiv Social Rehabilitation School discovered the art of the new generation - street art, and created their first masterpiece on one of the walls of their school. This art initiative aimed to draw public attention to the rights and development of children with delinquent behaviour and those in conflict with the law.

A total of 39 children are currently placed at the Kharkiv School of Social Rehabilitation. Some of the children have committed a crime, but they are below the minimum age of criminal responsibility, and therefore were placed at this school by a court order. The majority of children, however, are placed at the school at the request of their parents to address delinquent behaviour. UNICEF advocates for the development of community-bases services for children in conflict with the law because every child should grow up in a family environment.

The event was organized by UNICEF Ukraine, French Institute in Ukraine in cooperation with Kharkiv School of Social Rehabilitation and participation of the famous French street art painter Julien (Seth) Malland. Julien is visiting Ukraine within the program of the cultural festival – French Spring 2013 / Printemps Francais 2013.

© UNICEF/UKRAINE/2013/Y.Yurova
Drawing by the French painter in the paly room of the school

Almost 100 years old walls of the “Children`s kommuna” in Kharkiv which is now called Social Rehabilitation School experienced a touch of the art of the new generation. Together with the children, Julien created two street art paintings on the walls. Children learnt from Julien about street art culture and admired examples of his paintings from all around the world. One of the boys from the school answered Julien`s question about his experience with street-art or graffiti: “Yes, before I did spray words on the walls and asphalt, as everybody does in our neighbourhood. It looked ugly. Now I am very curious to try to spray with a real painter and create something nice.”

Each of the young participant received a personal task to create his own painting and draw a dream world or bright reality, in line with the theme of Julien`s paintings on the walls. Inspired by works of the famous artist, children created colourful and creative paintings on paper. Looking at their pictures, there is no doubt that all these children see their dream world bright and colourful despite the difficulties they are facing now.

Ruslana Sirman, UNICEF Ukraine Child Protection Officer: “For me, the most important was children`s participation in today`s art initiative. Every child has an equal right to development, including children in conflict with the law. The children were so excited to paint with Julien, queuing up behind him just to spray a rainbow on the wall. They were telling me how excited they are about the activity, they even got me excited to try to spray something as well. I tried and it was great!”

“I am really grateful to the school of social rehabilitation for such a warm welcome. I am happy and satisfied with my work today – because the children are happy. That`s most important for me!” – said Julien Malland.

The photo report from the event is available at UNICEF Ukraine page on Facebook

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About UNICEF: The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is a world leader on protection of child rights and best interests of a child. UNICEF is working on the ground in 190 countries to protect and support children from early childhood through adolescence. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. UNICEF opened its office in Ukraine in 1997. For more information:

For further information, please contact:
Ruslana Sirman,Child Protection Officer, UNICEF Ukraine,,
Yulia Yurova, Partnership Officer, UNICEF Ukraine,  
Tel: +38 044 254 2450.



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