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Counterring cyberbullying and sign language classes: second wave of UPSHIFT Youth Project completed in Kharkiv

The graduates of international innovative UPSHIFT project are about to launch a psychological consultation centre, deliver lectures on sexual education, and equip a free gym in Kharkiv.

Five teams that won the second wave of UPSHIFT – a project implemented by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Ukraine with the financial support from the European Union – received money to have their ideas put in practice. The UPSHIFT project aims at shaping the skills of social entrepreneurship in the adolescents and youth that will help them adapt to the modern dynamic and changing labour market.

The idea of the team “Pochuty Sertsem” (Hear by Heart) was one of those that met the eye the most. It is about breaking the wall of disconnect between those who can speak and those who communicate with sign language. The project united four students of a school for children with hearing impairments and a University student Khrystyna Riabokin who is about to study the sign language.

“It often happens in everyday life that people don’t understanding other people speaking. Thus, we wanted to get out a message that we are like them,” tells Volodymyr Charushyn, a high school student with hearing impairments (that’s his school director Halyna Kuklina who helps us communicate with the boy since she knows the sign language). “I have a friend living next to me. When she realized that I can’t hear, she set up to learn the sign language so that we could talk. At this event, I also made friends with people who wanted to learn the sign language.”

Members of Pochuty Sertsem team explain that they want to introduce the culture of ‘deaf people’ and engage others into learning the sign language. They are ready to provide training for free to everyone who want it. To spread the message and become visible, they are about to produce eco bags with hand and finger signs showing letters of the dactylic alphabet. They are also set to deliver a master class on wood burning. The team wants to produce special information plates and place them on the playgrounds and various social service providers around Kharkiv. Preliminary project budget is UAH 86,700.

Another education project was offered by the students of Ukrainian Leadership Academy. A team composed of five members is going to roll out the lectures on sexual education in secondary schools around Kharkiv.

“Ukraine is currently ranked second – after Russia – in terms of HIV incidence rate in Europe. Moreover, according to statistics, the children have their first sexual intercourse at the age of 13-15, and they don’t know the risks they face. They are not aware of using condoms, of the risks of sexually transmitted diseases, etc. The schools don’t include such topics in their curricula. Finally, the school children feel some barriers in communicating with their parents,” a team member Dmytro Yevdokimov proves why the project is necessary.

“Cyber Bullying Stop!” is yet another project presented by the team “Vartovi Pravoporiadku” (Public Order Watchdogs). The Kharkiv National University of Internal Affairs’ students claim that cyberbullying is about aggression and arguments on the Internet that can cause various disorders in teenagers. The most dangerous risk is suicide. Two suicides caused by cyberbullying have been documented in Ukraine, they explain. “Both children and adults – parents, teachers – should be sensitized to what is cyberbullying and how to address it,” the teams members emphasize. Their project entails trainings and public social advertisement. “We need some UAH 54,000 to engage experts and produce a spot, leaflets and branded items.”

Students of the Polytechnic University and V.Karazin University have joined their efforts to set up a psychology consultation center for youth in Kharkiv. They arrived at this idea during one of big meetings in the coffee house. “Our mentor helped us develop the idea into a project and put it to paper. First, we wanted to do it differently. More specifically, our core idea did not change, but the approaches did change,” Taras Pohrebniak explains.

To receive free consultations will, students will have to get an appointment with a counsellor through the website. The centre will also provide fee-based consultations, but the fee won’t exceed UAH 300. The team considers engaging young practitioners to the consultancy. They also want to provide various trainings and master classes to young psychologists who recently graduated from their universities.

The teenagers spend free time on the streets, because many of them can’t afford gym membership, “Compass” team members underline. They want to equip a gym in the Kosmos Youth Centre at 7 Velyka Panasivska St. The teenagers will be able to exercise there for free. Student stipends are as low as UAH 450 per month. “The gym membership is about the same price,” tells Maria Frolova, “In Kosmos Youth Centre, we will have premises for gym for free. But we need sports equipmentю We want to buy a stepper, ropes, a fitball, an exercise bike, dumbbells, a barbell, ground pads, an elliptical trainer, and wall bars. When we came to UPSHIFT, we only had an idea. Here, we were supported to develop it into a full-fledged project. Our trainer helped us break it down.”

The second wave of UPSHIFT global innovative project for youth was held in Kharkiv on 12-14 October. Fiive winning teams that received about UAH 60,000 each to implement their projects will now move to active stage to have their projects put into action. The mentors that accompanied the teams throughout the three-day event will extend their help during the upcoming three months.

“If additional consultants or mentors are needed, we can engage them from their sectors, as the teams might need. The key is to make sure that their projects are sustainable,” says Iryna Fomenko, Chair of Board of the NGO Fund of Professional Development of Kharkiv, “we received 65 applications for the first wave and some 40 applications, for the second. At each wave, we select ten best applications that could have impact in society. The main slogan is Youth is designing for youth. The age of participants is from 14 to 21. Each team should have three to five persons who currently reside in Kharkiv.”

We are now collecting applications for the next wave of UPSHIFT. Please, submit your application at bit.ly/UPShiftUA_Apply

UPSHIFT International Project in implemented in 22 countries around the world. In Ukraine, it is delivered in Kharkiv in partnership with the Fund of Professional Development of Kharkiv and supported by the EU. It will run for one year, with possible extension and up-scaling to other regions. More information about UPSHIFT Project is available at upshiftukraine.org

 

 
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