What is the problem?
Stress due to the war, losses, change of residence, and separation from relatives and friends — these realities today have affected Ukrainian teenagers. However, no matter how hard it is psychologically, Ukrainian teenagers do not give up. Living through the experience of war on the same level as adults, they are ready to do everything to bring the victory of Ukraine closer and help their country to endure and recover.
What is the solution?
A recent charitable foundation Dobrodiy Club study showed that 86% of Ukrainian teenagers see their future in Ukraine. Notably, this figure has tripled compared to similar surveys conducted before 2022. Even though the war is a crucial focus of teenagers' worries, 93% of respondents believe in themselves and their own strength and think they are making efforts for their realization. Almost 70% know who they want to become in the future, even if it is impossible to plan for the long term. As many as 90% of teenagers aspire to be helpful during the reconstruction of Ukraine, developing the economy and infrastructure, particularly through volunteering.
Almost half — 43% of the respondents have already participated in volunteering: collecting funds, weaving camouflage nets, packing aid, and preparing or distributing food.
Rubryka collected ten inspiring stories of teenage volunteering during the war.
How does it work?
Financial literacy is the foundation
According to 18-year-old Pavlo Ryzhov, for the country to become stronger and the economic development of Ukraine to take place faster and better, people should be more financially educated. Financial literacy is the foundation. He is a student at the Kyiv School of Economics. Together with his comrades Roman Mychka and Volodymyr Kulinich, the student created the Bahata Natsia, which is Ukrainian for Rich Nation, project aimed at improving the financial literacy of Ukrainians. Since the beginning of the year, the youth course has been available to everyone on the Diia. Digital education platform. The course is divided into two parts: employment and financial literacy. Experts share advice and experience in the video materials of the project.
According to 19-year-old Kulinich, course users will be able to get motivated to act, understand what is currently happening in the labor market, learn how to be competitive, write a resume, pass an interview, and, ultimately, get a job.
The young economists plan to develop the project further and want to make a separate course on investments.
Childhood should never be taken away
Artur, Daria, Nazar, and Maryna from Cherkasy have known each other since first grade.
Together, they decided to create the Power_che project to help children and young people live full lives, even during the war. The young volunteers of Cherkasy believe that childhood is a time that should never be taken away from children.
Power_che created a youth hub, which operates on the basis of Cherkasy secondary school No. 7. It is an interesting, creative, and useful space for young people, the purpose of which is to support children and teenagers, residents and visitors to the city, who were affected by the war. Here they can spend their free time together and make new friends.
The hub offers master classes like painting eco-bags and decorating gingerbread, game meetings, and educational activities. The young organizers arranged everything so the sessions were relaxed and friendly. Participation in the events is free of charge. After all, as the team says, their primary motivation is children's joy, smiles, and eyes that shine from having a good time.
"I am human, I have a heart"
Ukrainian teenagers are not only creative but also caring. January 14, 2023, became one of the most terrible days for Ukraine: Russian troops hit a residential building in Dnipro, resulting in the deaths of 45 people because of the aggressor's missile attack.
At the time of the tragedy, seventh-grader Tymofiy Poteryailo was nearby, riding a bicycle. Hearing the explosion, he immediately went to the damaged house. Poteryailo helped people who were panicking, crying, and screaming. When the rescuers arrived, the young hero rushed to help them.
Poteryailo already had volunteering experience. Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, he has been raising funds to help the defenders by playing a musical instrument. The volunteer says that on the day of the tragedy in Dnipro, he could not help but join the people working to help those who suffered. The 14-year-old boy was near the destroyed high-rise building for two days helping the victims, doctors, and rescuers. He distributed food with other volunteers, accompanied the victims' relatives, and called an ambulance for those affected.
The boy received gratitude from the Main Department of the State Emergency Service for his dedication and care and was presented with a fire helmet.
Bread of faith, love, and hope
In the Rivne region, children and teenagers help bake patriotic loaves of palyanytsya, a type of Ukrainian hearth-baked bread, according to old local recipes within the project Sharing Bread framework. It attracts people who moved because of active hostilities in their native regions. The re-settlers, together with the locals, bake bread and goodies for defenders and low-income families. Caring local entrepreneurs help to buy flour and other necessary ingredients.
In the city of Kostopol, children and teenagers with special educational needs took part in baking bread, which became a kind of therapy for them. They drew their states on flour, braided a braid of faith, love, and hope, formed a bread of endless happiness, as they called it, and decorated it with sincere wishes — symbolic poppy seeds.
Children and teenagers gladly shared ready-made loaves of palyanytsya with low-income, large, single-parent families and lonely pensioners of the city.
Feed homeless animals
Five classmates, Nastya, Dasha, Nastya, Vlada, and Tymur from the city of Bilozerske, the Donetsk region, created a headquarters to provide humanitarian aid to homeless animals and people who, during hostilities, do not have the opportunity to provide for their pet.
Young animal volunteers have already distributed and given out more than a ton of feed and more than 500 units of medicine. The increasing number of homeless animals in the city because of the war motivated teenagers to start such an initiative. "We are a young and determined generation that decided to take this issue into our own hands," the volunteers say.
Locals note that now that the animals in the city are fed and not starving, they have become less aggressive and attack passers-by less.
Solar panel for school
Rubryka has a piece about child inventors. They develop software systems and architectural projects, devices for disinfection and water purification, create demining devices, and send dental materials into space even during the war.
In Kropyvnytskyi, a city in central Ukraine, students from the Naukovy Lyceum made a solar panel that can be used to charge mobile phones and power banks right during classes. Four ninth-graders worked on a solar panel in the school laboratory after school for almost a month. Artemiy Zhernovyi, one of the lyceum students who worked on the project, said: the idea appeared when blackouts began because Russia damaged Ukraine's critical infrastructure.
The solar panel created by the students charges one phone in about two hours, and the inventors are working on improving the product.
"We plan to create a system of automatic rotation according to the direction of the sun's rays with the help of special sensors," says ninth-grader Yevhenii Grevtsov.
Now the solar panel is permanently available for charging the phones of students and employees of the lyceum.
A warm project in Transcarpathia
In one of the schools of Transcarpathia, students have set up a mini workshop where they make eco-friendly bricks for heating. The workshop in the school basement of the Kamianytskyi Lyceum has been operating for three years. This year, fuel briquettes, which allow you to save valuable resources, have become even more relevant. Schoolchildren say: in this way, thinking about the environment, they created reserves for the cold winter.
The school's director says that the students who initiated the project learned about this technology when they started sorting garbage. High school students developed and implemented this project, and now the ninth-graders joined the initiative.
Briquettes are made during extracurricular time or at labor training lessons.
Eco-friendly fuel consists of paper, sawdust, and water. Children bring paper from home, and woodworking enterprises share sawdust. The technology is simple — the crushed ingredients are mixed with water, and after the briquette mixture is pressed, the finished bricks are taken to the stove, where the briquettes should dry. During burning, one such briquette replaces 2-3 wooden logs.
Flowers for victory
Before the New Year, students of Uzhgorod School No. 3 planted tulips on the Nezalezhnosti embankment. The schoolchildren received flower bulbs from a benefactor from the Netherlands.
The teenagers worked with the idea that the city could meet the victory in all its glory: "In the spring, there will be victory, and the first flowers of Victory in Uzhhorod will be our tulips!" said the young volunteers.
Sofia Aleynikova is 14 years old. She founded the Pidlitky tezh mozhut' project in Kharkiv, which translates as Teenagers Can Act Too. According to Aleynikova, its purpose is to enable the younger generation to help Ukraine move forward. "We want teenagers to see that they too can do meaningful work and join us," says the girl.
Last summer, the young volunteer and 18 other Ukrainian teenagers went to the United States to learn leadership skills. They visited state institutions, met with leaders of various organizations, and collected funds to help Ukraine. "This program changed my view of the world. I saw what great things teenagers can do," Aleynikova wrote on the project's Telegram channel.
Now she shares this experience with others to show what young people can do. The project includes charity online and offline master classes, short-term courses, and other exciting things. Young leaders conduct various games to develop communication and raise funds to support charitable foundations. The team often gathers to weave camouflage nets for Ukrainian defenders.
Even more useful solutions
What else can teenagers do??
The Ukrainian Volunteer Service has prepared tips on where and how teenagers can help during the war.
1️⃣ Help with your hands. You can:
- weave nets: volunteer groups are organized in schools and humanitarian headquarters, so bring a green cloth and join in;
- sort the humanitarian aid: headquarters often need extra hands to process tons of assistance from abroad;
- deliver food and medicine to lonely older adults. Start with the neighbors —maybe they need your help;
- support animals: shelters often need help with taking care of animals.
2️⃣ Support with conversations. You can:
- participate in telephone volunteering: the My Telephone Friend project team will select a person with whom you can establish a telephone friendship. To do this, register on the project website.
- supporting internally displaced children: playing together, reading a book aloud, or studying can be really helpful for those who have experienced the horrors of war in hot spots.
3️⃣ Допомагай онлайн та креатив у соцмережах. Ти можеш:
- volunteer on the informational front: distribute publications and comments in different languages about the situation in Ukraine, call on famous people to support Ukraine on social networks, refute fakes and spread useful information in times of war, and make TikToks;
- engage in creativity: create illustrations, songs, and poems. This is quite supportive of Ukrainians and, at the same time, helps to express one's own emotions.
4️⃣ Fundraise at your school. You can:
- put a charity box at the entrance to the school, fairs, or charity evenings: combine the useful and the pleasant. Everyone who wants to can join the event, and the proceeds can be used to help others.
This material was created by the online media outlet Rubryka within the Ukrainian Rapid Response Fund program framework, implemented by IREX with the support of the US State Department. The content is the sole responsibility of the Rubryka online media outlet and does not necessarily reflect the views of IREX or the US State Department.
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