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UNDP sets up yoga classes for people with disabilities in Kramatorsk

Jul 28, 2017

Photo credit: © Artem Getman / UNDP in Ukraine

Kramatorsk, 27 July – UNDP Ukraine, in partnership with UN Volunteers, hosted a yoga class for 40 people with disabilities and special needs at the Interregional Center of Professional Rehabilitation for People with Disabilities in Kramatorsk.

The center focuses on providing training courses, support and activities for residents, many of whom are IDPs. Rehabilitation entails a combination of job training courses, together with psychological and physical programmes. The clients of the center were all trying yoga for the first time.

International volunteer Matt, who is working with UNDP, is a licensed instructor and gave a comprehensive yoga class, focusing on breathing, muscle rejuvenation and stretching. With over half of the 40 yoga students in wheel chairs, everyone took a seat to do a chair yoga class.

The class focused on engaging core muscle support, upper body strengthening and stretching, and breathing awareness. While the class was designed for those in wheelchairs, it was adapted to everyone’s individual needs. Afterwards, the students were happy and surprised. “It wasn’t what I expected – I was sweating like I was in a sauna!” said one of the participants, Natalya. The local physical therapist, Ivan, plans to further integrate yoga into each of the residents’ physical programmes.

On July 26, yoga classes were held for the general public, with a special focus on young people, followed by Thursday’s yoga class for local nongovernmental organizations working with young people with special needs. These two outdoor yoga classes were held in a newly established community campus named “Parkovka," which is located close to Kramatorsk's three universities – two of which were displaced by the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Yoga encapsulates the 3rd Sustainable Development Goal – good health and well-being. It creates an inclusive space to learn about the body, no matter the student's level of experience or disability, while also bringing the community together in one place. Yoga also creates social cohesion among young people and vulnerable populations.

The initiative for fostering social cohesion and reconciliation in conflict-affected communities in Ukraine is being implemented by the UN Development Programme, with financial support from Sweden and Switzerland.

Media inquiries

Yevgeniy Zelenko, UNDP Ukraine Media Officer | +38 044 254 0035 | yevgeniy.zelenko@undp.org