Victoria Seredenko, 16, from Kropyvnytskyi in Ukraine, explains how her initiative can help to support and protect young people.
Many of us have heard about domestic violence, bullying and gender inequality, but we don't always understand how widespread these problems are.
80.1% of young people consider the problem of violence in relationships relevant today. According to Ukrainian youth (57.3%), the home is the most common place where you can encounter violence. This data comes from a survey done by UNICEF on the U-Report platform, where more than 4,500 young people (aged 14 to 34) participated
So when my team and I were accepted onto the UPSHIFT Ukraine programme supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), we came to the conclusion that we should spread the word about domestic violence, because this topic was and will always be relevant. Before the project, some in our team kept silent about our problems regarding domestic violence. But they did not know how to help themselves. This became the impetus for our project.
During the project, my team and I worked conscientiously. The main question for us was how to help teenagers who suffer from bullying, gender inequality and domestic violence, and do not have the strength to fight it. Therefore, after discussing this as a team, we decided to create a space where teenagers would feel safe and receive help from specialists. For this, my team and I engaged qualified specialists to help teenagers on a voluntary basis.
Upon completion of the project, we will continue to jointly support and assist these teenagers. Talking to them, providing information about types of violence and the norms of a healthy relationship are important steps on the way to awareness. Our psycho-emotional relief room is always ready to help with this, and every teenager should know that they can count on our support and protection.
In this room, we also look for ways to ease other problems that young people face, such as bullying, which can leave a deep mark on the emotional state.
We are always here to help teenagers find a way out. One way is through our handmade workshops. They help focus on creativity and take the mind off problems. Participants can create something with their own hands that will make them smile and feel proud. Also, our supportive conversations are a safe space to talk, where youth can openly express their feelings and not feel alone. People who understand what they are going through can be extremely important.
We want our room to become a place where our peers can rest from life's worries and focus on its positive aspects. Together, we have achieved this.
UNICEF’s UPSHIFT programme empowers young people with the skills and resources they need to identify problems in their own communities and design solutions for them. Through the programme, mentors help to equip them with professional skills – such as teamwork, problem analysis, critical thinking and project management. After completing the UPSHIFT programme, many participants continue implementing projects or creating new initiatives.