Youth clubs help Ukraine’s war-affected children connect and find support

Nearly 18 million Ukrainians urgently need humanitarian assistance. However, crucial support goes beyond food, water and shelter as World Vision also prioritizes children’s development and well-being.

During one year of war parents are noticing changes in the children’s behavior. They report their children have become more closed and stopped sharing their feelings.

However, one local organization in Ukraine is trying to change this. Our local partner Youth Movement Be Free (YMBF) runs youth clubs every Saturday.

“Children have become more open, now they are communicating not with those who they knew before but also with strangers,” says Larysa, who brings her granddaughter Daria, 10, to Youth club.

Through the youth club's activities, the children have gradually restored their confidence to engage with fellow children.


Children visit these clubs to participate in activities such as arts and craft classes, exercises, dancing and singing. It is also of the few opportunities for many children to connect through conversations and support each other in a safe environment. 

“I’ve noticed, when children started visiting these clubs they were closed, and they didn’t share anything. And the more we speak with them, the more they become open, and this happens only to those who attend our clubs for a long time,” explains Sasha, who is an assistant coordinator of the youth club.

“We see the results, huge results, and want to continue our cooperation, because it’s fruitful. We observe the changes in children and the changes in the attitudes towards parents, friends, God and us. They are changing their habits and then this how we see the donors and World Vision’s help,” tells Sasha.

I’ve noticed, when children started visiting these clubs they were closed, and they didn’t share anything. And the more we speak with them, the more they become open.

Unfortunately, the war has separated families, but through the youth club children find ways to support each other and cope with these challenges. Vlada, who is 12 years old, enjoys coming here every week. Like most children she has been through a lot over the past year.

“It’s hard when someone from your family, like brothers or your father, are sent to defend the country. So, I find clubs really helpful,” shares Vlada.

The youth club helped Vlada make friends here. She and her new friend Miroslava, who is 12 years old, like to spend time together.

Vlada engrossed at work during a club activity. Apart from learning and creating new things, she also shared how she found friends in the club.


"I really like coming here. It’s about meeting people. I made a friend here and we are good friends. We like going shopping together", explains Vlada.

World Vision has reached more than 251,000 children over the last year, through various programs including psychosocial support, education and child protection.

World Vision’s work with children in Ukraine through YMBF is made possible thanks to donors such as Bureau of Humanitarian (BHA) - USAID, Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development (ACTED)Aktion Deutschland Hilft (ADH), and PNS Funds from World Vision Netherlands and World Vision UK.

VIDEO: Thanks to our donors and partners responding to Ukrainians' urgent need

Story and photos by Oleksandra Shapkina, Communications and Public Engagement Officer