A lot of people are talking about the war in Ukraine these days. It’s a really big topic, and there’s a lot to say about it. But one thing that I think doesn’t get enough attention is the effect the war is having on children. Specifically, children with disabilities. There have been reports of schools being bombed, kids being injured, and even killed. It’s just heartbreaking. Where do the kids with disabilities run from the war in Ukraine?
Children are the Future and Right Now, They Cannot Escape the War
Since the beginning of the Ukraine crisis, over a million people have been displaced. Among them are many children who have had to flee their homes and leave everything behind. With so much violence and chaos, it’s no wonder that these kids are struggling to adjust. This is a difficult time for all of Ukraine’s children, but we need to do what we can to help them heal and rebuild their lives.
My heart breaks and tears are crying as I’m writing this. Because the situation is tough on the little souls that cling so much hope to this world.Kids with a disability, who have difficulties in movement, look out in despair, not knowing if they will be able to truly have a future. They look into the eyes of their moms and dads, and they fear, now more than ever, that they won’t have an opportunity, that they will be crippled to stay in a place that’s being bombed. Kids with a disability cannot run away from war.
Crippled by the War, No Opportunity in Sight for Ukraine’s kids
These kids know they want to live a good life. They know they deserve it, as this chance should be for everyone. Many of them are currently left behind, with no possibility to evacuate because of their special needs assistance that is now stuck between closed roads.
How will they escape the war? How will they make it out of this alive? Has anyone thought about the people who have a difficulty from birth to move, to coordinate their movement and who need special assistive devices? Not everyone is the same. Not everyone has the same skills or capabilities. But we should leave no one behind. Our efforts should concentrate on getting them out of danger as well. How will you help?
The European Disability Forum ( EDF) has in this sense written an open letter to the Head of the European Institutions, European, Russian and Ukrainian Heads of State and NATO 24 February 2022. They call for all parties to ensure the protection and safety of persons with disabilities in Ukraine. Their open letter can be found here.
These kids deserve a chance too. And we hope that through Stasism as well, we can help with as little as spreading out the word. Every bit of help we give means the world to them.
Is there Hope for Cerebral Palsy kids in Ukraine?
We started working with our Ukraine partners about 6 years ago, when the idea of an accessible therapy through play for kids with cerebral palsy came into being. There has been so much we have achieved in these years and we have so much left to do. We hope that we will be able to continue our work there for children and young adults with cerebral palsy.
We are deeply saddened by the current situation in Ukraine and we know how much therapy sessions meant for the development of these kids. Now, they have been deprived of all that helps them improve. And what’s more, we fear it can deprive them of a home, of safety, of their basic needs. We hold hope that things can get better, as we want to continue our work in Ukraine, with Ukrainian kids, and help families get through the processes of daily therapy with a smile on their faces.
In the photo you can see our dear colleague, Anna Kushnir, medical doctor, helping a young girl perform her therapy with Stasism, at Elita Rehabilitation Center. She has dedicated her life to working with children with cerebral palsy and other types of disability and we hope she will be able to continue doing so.
Children with Disabilities, Disregarded
Children with disabilities from all over the world are unfortunately, in general, often left to fend for themselves. They’re stigmatized by society and lack access to the resources they need to thrive. But organizations that work to provide the care and support they need are there, and they struggle every day to bring something better into their lives. And that’s what we wish to do as well.
We have been working with 4 pilot centers in Ukraine:
- Elita Rehabilitation Center
- International Rehabilitation Clinic
- Ukrainian Medical Rehabilitation Centre
- Svitanok Centre for Rehabilitation
In all of these centres we have tested our video games platform for kids with cerebral palsy. The purpose is to motivate them to perform their daily therapy, whilst having fun and socializing. Our goal is simple – create an experience where kids love coming back every day because playing our games makes them feel good about themselves and their bodies.
Kids with Disabilities Are also Part of Society, Don’t Leave them Behind
Together, we need to prove that having a disability doesn’t have to mean disadvantage. So if you’re thinking of helping out in Ukraine, please have a look online to check out current Facebook groups for help and associations that provide transport, food and homes for the displaced children in Ukraine.
We’ve seen massive involvement from all over the globe, from the neighboring countries, to further away states who have lent a hand to these people. It’s crucial that we give out all that we can to help these people right now. Every child deserves a chance to lead a happy and fulfilling life, regardless of their disability or ability.
All children and all people need to be heard, and need to have access to basic human rights. And each of us can help, little by little. We must not leave them behind.