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Mobile groups of the Step Forward project. Stories from Zhytomyr

Mobile groups of the Step Forward project. Stories from Zhytomyr

Step Forward Project: Humanitarian action for a sustainable protection child with disability and rehabilitation-social system in Ukraine. The project is implemented with the support of partners Caritas Italiana and Secours Catholique - Caritas France.

One of the important activities of the Step Forward project is the work of mobile teams of rehabilitation specialists who are currently working in Zhytomyr, Berdychiv and Korosten. 

The goal of the activity is to provide systematic assistance to children and young people with disabilities to improve their relationships with the world around them and their integration into it through classes aimed at developing fine and gross motor skills, imagination, memory and speech.  

The mobile groups started their work in February and today the fifth field session has already taken place in Zhytomyr. Each of these meetings brings together 10 to 18 families. The work is conducted in two parallel groups: one for young people and one for their parents or guardians.  

According to Nataliia, who comes to classes with her son Ihor, children want a certain autonomy, independence, and their own individual interaction with teachers and each other. Therefore, this format of classes is really the most successful.

"For us, mothers, it is also useful," Natalia continues, "We switch gears and communicate in a circle of people who understand each other. At the same time, we learn something new and get moral support from each other and rehabilitators."

Alla Rybalchenko, rehabilitator:"Each of our sessions with children and young people lasts three hours and consists of a number of different very effective therapies that overlap and actively complement each other. This comprehensive approach is implemented in a game-like format. Despite its lightness, it is very effective: selected exercises perform both educational and developmental functions, and even help relieve stress."

One of the types of rehabilitation services that the mobile group uses in its work is Dance and Movement Therapy. During the classes, a specialist encourages children and young people with disabilities to use movement to develop their social, cognitive, emotional and physical condition.

Mental and emotional problems are often held back in the body in the form of muscle tension and stiff movements, so with the help of neurogymnastics and tactile massage, we trigger our emotional system and tone our muscles.

On a physical level, Dance Therapy has all the benefits of sports: it improves general condition, coordination and muscle tone. On an emotional level, it helps you feel happier and more confident. In addition, Movement Therapy improves memory, increases cognitive interest and motivation.

Natalia Ivanovna comes to the class with her daughter Oksana, who is 43 years old. However, due to her disability, Oksana mentally remains as a child, depending on the support and care of adults.

"The older the child becomes, the more they need such activities," says Natalia Ivanivna, "Moreover, they are essential on a regular basis. It's not just about supporting their skills, but also simply for communication and a feeling of acceptance. 

Today we came early, we were the first, and Oksana was very worried that no one else was there. They are getting used to each other and the people who teach the classes, and they are getting united. If someone is sick or doesn't come to class for some other reason, they are very distressed."

Indeed, young people especially need such active systematic training. Kindergarten, school, special schools - according to the specifics of each child's development, each of them led an active social life until adulthood. They were constantly in stable interaction with teachers and other children, which contributed to the development and consolidation of their skills. 

However, after 18, the low level of their involvement in social interaction becomes a real problem. In part, all communication is limited to the family circle. And if parents and relatives are busy with work, such forced loneliness in young people with disabilities leads to regression. 

Iryna Koshyk, rehabilitator: "In our team, I am responsible for neurogymnastics and exercise classes. And within a few sessions, their positive impact becomes noticeable: young people remember the order of exercises and have favorite activities. Their movements become more confident even when performing unusual, new exercises and tasks. This is exactly the effect we strive for."

15 April 2024
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