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UNICEF organizes ‘Words Help’ celebration for conflict-affected children in Sviatohirsk

KIEV, June 3, 2015 – On 1 June, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) arranged a big event for children in the central square of Sviatohirsk, a town in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region, dedicated to Children's Day.

©UNICEF \ Ukraine \ 2015 \ Zmey

The event was opened by the organizers, UNICEF Ukraine Deputy Representative Rudi Luchmann; Mayor of Sviatohirsk Alexander Dzyuba; Head of the Department of Family and Youth of Donetsk’s Regional State Administration Liliya Ivanovna Zolkina; and Head of the Foundation ‘Heart of Sloviansk’ Natalia Kirkach.

Rudi Luhcmann, UNICEF Ukraine Deputy Representative:
‘UNICEF is helping children and families affected by the crisis in Ukraine. Psychologists trained by our teams have outreached nearly 30,000 children with psychosocial support. Every year, UNICEF organizes a national event in Children's Day; this year we decided to do so where our support is needed the most. Hopefully, this celebration has brought many smiles to the children of Sviatohirsk and positive emotions that will stay with them for a long time.’

©UNICEF \ Ukraine \ 2015 \ Zmey

With a population of just 4,000 people, and covering 8 square kilometers, Sviatohirsk has received almost 30,000 internally displaced persons since the beginning of the armed conflict. Around 7,000 displaced children still live here. They are unable to return home because of continued fighting, or because their homes have been destroyed.

For 3,500 children in Sviatohirsk (among them some 500 who are orphaned and 300 with disabilities), there is only one operative kindergarten and one secondary school. UNICEF and its partners organized the 1 June celebration to encourage the young citizens and to raise awareness about the importance of psychosocial support for children.

©UNICEF \ Ukraine \ 2015 \ Zmey

The nationwide ‘Words Help’ campaign is continuing to gain momentum, enabling concerned adults to seek professional advice on how to interact with children who are in a stressful situation or have experienced a traumatic event. During the first two weeks after the launch of the campaign, the website http://wordshelp.com.ua was visited by more than 10,000 people and collected more than 500 good wishes from celebrities and ordinary Ukrainians.

On 1 June, all the words of kindness were transformed into air for balloons that were given to the 3,000 young visitors to the event; their parents or caregivers were given a free copy of the information booklet Psychological trauma: how to help the child, which explains how to determine whether a child has experienced stress, and how to address it.

©UNICEF \ Ukraine \ 2015 \ Zmey

The event featured performances by talented creative collectives of the Sviatohirsk school and children's health center ‘Emerald City’, where displaced children who have been deprived of parental care live. Every child attending the event could earn a prize by reciting a poem or singing a song – the prize being a toy teddy bear, the symbol of the ‘Words Help’ campaign.

Children also participated in a concert of local talents and a drawing competition, and had fun with the attractions. At the end of the event came the big surprise: a huge UNICEF hot air balloon (http://flyinghighforkids.com/), which is travelling around the world and had arrived in Sviatohirsk to show the world’s solidarity and support. Children could be photographed next to the balloon, play with it and even help set it up and later dismantle it.

The event was also streamed online by the national TV channel Espresso TV, at http://espreso.tv/

For additional information, please contact:
Anna Suhodolska, UNICEF Ukraine Tel. +380503578757 Asukhodolska@unicef.org  and/or
Ninel Strelkovska, UNICEF Ukraine Tel. +38 095 275 27 18 nstrelkovska@unicef.org  

***

About UNICEF:
UNICEF promotes the rights and the well-being of every child and families in Ukraine since 1997. UNICEF is a world champion in protecting the rights and interests of children. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. UNICEF programmes are funded from voluntary contributions of private persons, companies, institutions and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org.ua . Join us on Twitter, Facebook and ВКонтактее.

 

 
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