Solution 12:56 22 Aug 2023

VSELI HUB: teenagers in the Chernihiv region village created a special youth space

How to turn an abandoned library into a space for active youth and children? Rubryka learned how teenagers initiated and implemented the project.

What is the problem?

What to do if the young community lacks a cozy and comfortable place to communicate, share their ideas, and learn about something new, interesting, and useful in a timely manner? They could continue to gather on a bench near the store or in someone's yard, wait for better times, or that adults will do something about that. Or they could participate in a social activism project, tune in to productive work and create changes themselves.

What is the solution?

Today, young people aspire to be a part of these changes. Sociological studies show that 90% of teenagers believe they can be useful during Ukraine's post-war reconstruction. They want to participate in developing the economy and infrastructure through volunteering. Today, Ukrainian children are ready to become a part of the common future and take responsibility on a par with adults.

The teenagers of the village of Yuzhne, in the Chernihiv region, got just such a chance to prove themselves. Pupils of the local lyceum participated in the Ukrainian Antiquity NGO program, 'Active position of my region. Through the eyes of children.' The won grant helped teenagers from Yuzhne to implement their own project in their village — the youth cultural and educational space VSELI HUB.

How does it work?

Teenagers can do anything!

молодіжний простір VSELI HUB

VSELI HUB — a youth space has opened in Yuzhne village in the Chernihiv region

High school students from Yuzhne decided not to wait for someone else to create the needed youth space. Instead, Amina Matsola, Anna Danko, Anastasia Naumenko, Anna Kutsenko, and team leader Yehor Kandyba began to act on their own. The curator of the initiative group was Alina Vasyura, a history teacher at the Yuzhne Lyceum of the Parish Settlement Council, and Larysa Pashchenko, director of the Chernihiv development center Origami, became the ideological inspiration.

Аміна Мацола, Анна Данько, Анастасія Науменко, Анна Куценко, Єгор Кандиба

VSELI HUB project team

"When we passed the selection for the project 'Active position of my region. Through the eyes of children', we immediately began to think about what would benefit our village the most and concluded that a space where you can gather, organize meetings with specialists, and just have fun is the most appropriate idea," says Yehor Kandyba, the leader of the team. "To realize our idea, we needed to win the main prize of the project — 100 thousand. That's why we tried very hard."

The teenagers approached work on the project seriously. First, they identified existing problems in the village and analyzed the community's needs — the need to create opportunities to meet like-minded people, socialization, organization of creative leisure. A survey of fellow teenagers aged 12 to 17 was conducted, and it turned out that 86% of those interviewed spoke in favor of creating a space. The team searched for a place for the hub and received consent from the lyceum's director to use an old library.

They worked on the project for almost three months. They completed a block of trainings and tasks and created a presentation of their own project. They did everything efficiently to earn the most points at the project presentation. They developed the project's identity on their own and created pages of the initiative on social networks.

"Everything worked out for us, and we won," Kandyba says proudly.

молодіжний простір VSELI HUB

This is how it all began: teenagers from Yuzhne formed an idea, gathered information, and made an estimate

One of the tasks of participating in the grant program, even before the announcement of the results, was to draw up an estimate for the main prize amount. However, this money was not enough for the project, so the teenagers turned to the community and fellow villagers for support: they held a presentation of the project for representatives of the government, business, education, and village youth. As a result, the prize financial support of ₴100,000 was supplemented by the same amount from local entrepreneurs and the Department of Education. A plasma TV, a laptop for work, and all the necessary materials and furniture were purchased with the grant money, and the money found in the community was used for repairs.

"We drew up two estimates: one for repair work because the won funds could not be used for this, and the other for the ₴100,000 of the grant money. As it turned out, it was not easy, and adult support was necessary. However, everyone we turned to helped us — some with money, some with materials, transport, or advice," says tenth-grader Kandyba.

After winning the project, the team immediately started arranging the future VSELI HUB space.

молодіжний простір VSELI HUB

The room before the renovation was a mess

Teenagers and caring community residents raked out the junk in the library, which was previously used as a storage room. Then the students began to clean the walls for future repairs. The team installed the doors themselves, installed the linoleum, and purchased the paint and light fixtures. Teenagers put together the furniture and, with the help of adults, arranged the dream space.

According to Kandyba, they were inspired by this important and responsible matter: "Projects of such a scale have never been done in our village. We knew if we did it, it would be really cool! The possibilities of our space were the main motivation to bring things to an end."

Changes for the better and the desire to interact

молодіжний простір VSELI HUB

History teacher Alina Vasyura (far right) opens the VSELI HUB youth space together with her students

In May, the grand opening of the VSELI HUB space took place. It has everything to organize various events: meet online and offline with various experts, hold workshops, or gather to play board games or chat. Pupils of the Yuzhne Lyceum, resettler children, and parents come here with pleasure.

молодіжний простір VSELI HUB

Online meeting with psychologist Inna Chystenko

The hub has been open for a short time, but everything in it already corresponds to the main concept 'Development. Opportunities. Support.' Film screenings are held every Tuesday and Friday, and reading gatherings are held every other Wednesday. For older children, there are interesting and meaningful meetings with a lawyer and a psychologist and master classes on public speaking.

Майстриня Наталія Чуб

The craftswoman Nataliia Chub conducts a master class on creating a traditional Ukrainian Motanka doll

For the little ones, a speech therapist was invited, several workshops were held, and an educational online lesson, 'Traveling the countries of the world,' was held. Events for International Children's Protection Day and the holiday of the last bell were also organized here, and the first bicycle race in two years started from the doors of VSELI HUB. The children thought out the route and organized a picnic on the pass and an active weekend in a picturesque place — the Kachanivka nature reserve.

Велопробіг для учнів ліцею в Южному

Bicycle race for students of the lyceum in Yuzhne was organized by the team 

Even more useful solutions!

The main feature of the village hub is that the organizers of many activities in it are teenagers themselves. They chose a proven formula: 'By teaching others, we learn ourselves.'

молодіжний простір VSELI HUB

Reading club classes are held regularly at VSELI HUB

For example, ninth-grader Anna Kutsenko leads a reading club in the hub.

молодіжний простір VSELI HUB

Kandyba, even before the hub's opening, met with younger schoolchildren to teach them how to play intellectual and logical board games. He is now responsible for this direction at VSELI HUB. Children like it, and for the team, it was an additional motivation to fill the shelves of the hub with games.

молодіжний простір VSELI HUB

Movie screenings are one of the activities VSELI HUB offers for the visitors

Anastasiya Naumenko is responsible for movie screenings — she creates posters and prints tickets. She is considering how to make it possible to enjoy popcorn at movie screenings in the hub, just like in a real movie theatre.

молодіжний простір VSELI HUB

Amina Matsola teaches hairstyling

Amina Matsola has a knack for doing hair and conducts master classes on this topic. She teaches everyone who wants to weave different braids and take care of hair.

Галина Пащенко

Halyna Pashchenko is the inspiration behind the VSELI HUB team

"This was the main idea of our space — that children should work on their own, everyone would have their project, develop it and not be afraid to initiate new ones," comments Halyna Pashchenko, who inspired the VSELI HUB team. "I have eight years of experience opening startup projects, but I did them when there was money. My motivation here was to make everything from scratch with the children. I wanted to motivate children so that they make sure that they are a force! From the very beginning, at each stage of their achievements, I told them: 'Believe that you can do much more!' They grew up so much! I'm so proud of them. They're incredibly cool; you just need to be with them constantly and help them grow."

There is still a lot of work ahead. Activists plan to build a bicycle parking lot near the hub and the school, to fill the educational space with modern literature and invite even more specialists who are interesting to children and adults in the village, buy desktop easels, tablets, and paints, and activate an art studio at VSELI HUB. Regarding this, there is already an agreement with the Department of Education. A local artist is ready to lead the painting class — she is preparing a full-fledged academic course lasting nine months.

"I support my children. Everything I do with them is for them! Our team has succeeded thanks to their determination, hard work, and care. I believe that the experience of working on the project will help my pupils to become successful people!" sums up Alina Vasyura, the curator of the project and history teacher of the Yuzhne Lyceum.


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