Back into Shape: Renovated sport gym in Chuguiv school No. 2 welcomes childrenJan 6, 2017
Semen is only 12, but he already has a red belt in Aikido. For more than six years he has been training hard to reach this. He comes to the sport gym at his school No. 2 in Chuguiv (Kharkiv region) several times a week for Aikido together with other kids – Denis, Zhenia and Sonia. For them these sport classes at school became a very important part of their lives. Here they learn not only how to strike aside or to fall properly, they also learn how to build friendship, trust and self-confidence. “Most of all I like the thrill of the race which appears during the competitions. It also teaches me to never give up or give in despite all the challenges in my life” says Semen. Though Sonia is the only girl in the team, she does not feel intimidated and enjoys the support of her peers during competitions: “I like Aikido, it helps me to feel more empowered,” she says.
Aikido classes have been running at the school for quite a long time, but until 2015, every winter was a time of great challenges for the sport club and for school in general. All Ukrainian sport gyms at schools face the same problem – because of the old big windows, it is always cold in winter. In Chuguiv school No. 2 the problem was left unsolved for decades. How could the school afford to replace the old windows?
Usually kids love sport classes but not when the gym is an icehouse, says school principal Natalia Salivon. School management and parents realized that they had to join efforts to do something about this.
At the end of October 2015 parents and local activists created a community organization “Batkivska Turbota” (“Parental Care”) and developed a micro-project to renovate school’s gym. Thanks to EU funds and its presence in the region, UNDP could support their initiative. After half a year of intense work, the parents’ dream came true. With a refurbished roof, thermo-modernized walls, new windows, and warm light the sport gym was now in condition to host activities all year round. These results were possible thanks to the proactive engagement of the community, local authorities and school management. As in all projects supported by the EU and UNDP in the context of the community-based approach to local development (CBA) project, change starts from the community and needs to be supported by local authorities. The total cost of the project was about UAH 500 000, out of which the community raised about UAH 30 000 and local authorities provided more than UAH 300 000. The rest was provided by the EU/UNDP CBA Project.
“Cost-sharing helped us all to feel involved. Parents and especially children realized they were fully in charge of this project and its success depended on them. Every kid in the school knows that their families made a contribution to the renovation, so now they treat the equipment more carefully. Everybody feels they have a stake in their gym”, says Larysa Milchenko, head of community organization “Batkivska Turbota”.
Of course, the biggest result of the renovations was children’s desire to take sport classes beyond the mandatory programme. New sport clubs appeared: volleyball, sport dance and other classes. Semen and his team members could feel the difference. Practicing Akido in a warm sport gym is much more fun! They now hope that more kids will join them, to become a strong winning team.
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