UPSHIFT Ukraine project supports family fitness studio in Mariupol school

The tenth-graders from the School No 64 won in the third wave of UPSHIFT Ukraine project in Mariupol, and now, they know exactly how to turn a hobby into a future profession.

In order to keep themselves in good physical shape during summer school break, students were gathering in the stadium of the School No 64 to train together. These training sessions were driven by pure enthusiasm. Over time, the number of participants has increased as more kids of various ages were coming together with their parents. And the children would not abandon their hobby even after the start of a new academic year: they trained during breaks between classes, gathering little kids in the school’s hallways and training under musical accompaniment. Looking at all that, the school’s new principal Natalia Venia realized that this initiative should not be left without attention. The already existing team was definitely set up for success. The only thing that was missing was the right organization of these gatherings and a uniform training system.


A business incubator for startupers

While the kids were organizing themselves into an outdoor sport club, UPSHIFT Ukraine project was presented in Mariupol. This is a global innovative program from UNICEF, implemented in 22 countries by the United Nations Children’s Fund. In Ukraine, this program was implemented for the first time by the Foundation for Professional Development of Kharkiv with financial support from the European Union.

“In 2019-20, the project came to the Donetsk Oblast: Kramatorsk, Sloviansk, Severodonetsk, Dobropillia and Mariupol. Presently, the fifth wave of media literacy is being launched in our city,” Tetiana Veider, UPSHIFT Ukraine Regional Coordinator in Mariupol, said.

Young people aged between 14 and 21 years are eligible for participation in this project. They must be able to work in a team and have a common idea as regards development of social entrepreneurship, which can help make the world better. If the organizers decide that an offer is worthy, its authors will receive a grant for up to 60 thousand hryvnias to make their idea come true. They would also have to undergo a three-month training course in a business incubator. During this time, specialists in entrepreneurship will help the attendees improve their findings and test their ideas for vitality.


Endurance test

School No 64 Principal Natalia Venia proposed the organizers of an open-air sports hobby group to participate in a new project. The students got interested in the opportunities opening before them, but they still didn’t place much hopes on winning. Nevertheless, tenth-graders Daria Kalachova, Sofia Yelfimova and Sofia Samoilenko created a project called Family Fitness. The idea was to hold joint training sessions for beginner athletes of all ages.

The girls say that they have long dreamed of making their sessions professional, buying the necessary sports equipment and reaching higher. Their team has long grown out of amateurism, and was ready for the next step.

“We used grandma’s mats, bottles with sand instead of dumbbells and benches instead of step platform. We just had to be given a bit of a push to start making our project a reality,” Juliana Tanasiienko, a physical education teacher at the School No 64, says.

Certain difficulties could not be avoided, but they only made them stronger.

“First time, the girls’ application was turned down. Of course, they were disappointed, but their inspirer and mentor, physical education teacher Juliana Tanasiienko, convinced them to try again. When they heard that they will receive a grant for their project, they looked like cosmonauts about to fly to another planet,” Natalia Venia recalls.


The project’s mentor Iryna Sviatchenko, a specialist at a methodological consulting center, tells about the selection process. Applications were received from ten teams, and all of them were invited to attend a three-day training course.

“I was lucky to become the mentor of the team who proposed the Family Fitness project. Together, we worked out implementation phases, discussing what they need that for. Members of the jury included specialists from Kharkiv, representatives of UNICEF and the city’s authorities. Five out of the ten teams were selected, and we became the winners,” Iryna Sviatchenko shares her joy.

The girls spent almost 50 thousand hryvnias to buy equipment – almost the entire money provided by sponsors.


The story only begins

The schoolchildren prepared a schedule of sessions, created a webpage and announced the start of a new program.

Those who wanted to sign up for family fitness came out in large numbers. They pay a voluntary fee for a training session – a symbolic amount spent to pay electricity bills, buy new implements and partially to pay salary to beginner coaches.

On the day of the fitness studio’s presentation, the School No 64 was crowded like never before. The event was attended by kids of various ages, their parents and teachers.

“In the past, we didn’t have the opportunity to do sports, because fitness centers are located far from our home. We could not take our child to trainings every time, and we truly wished our school had a sports section. Finally, our wish came true. Now, we can train all together, without wasting time on riding and waiting,” Olena Milianiyk, the mother of a third-grader, said.

Her daughter Yelizaveta is also happy. “I liked the session very much, because I trained together with my mom and my best classmate friends under my most favorite music. It’s my first time at a fitness session, but I will always come here,” the beginner athlete said with confidence.

A lot of work still needs to be done, but the Family Fitness team is confident that their training sessions will greatly benefit the health of people and create a positive image of their school.

Healthy lifestyle is the cornerstone of success, and the authors of Family Fitness project presented in the School No 64 proved that once again.


By Viktoria Kalashnikova

Source: Priazovskiy Rabochiy