Column by Ekaterina Belorusskaya: On the development of children through social initiatives

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Physical education in Ukrainian realities is not the subject for which children go to school. Often it remains out of the focus of attention of almost all participants in the educational process: children sit on benches, the teacher conducts standard exercises and football for those students who did come, and the school cannot provide the equipment necessary for the lesson.

Physical education should improve the health of the child and teach him to a comfortable life in society. It is a big mistake to deprive a child of this lesson. Ekaterina Belorusskaya, president of the international charitable foundation Parimatch Foundation, talks about how the foundation wants to help raise a conscious and healthy generation through physical activity.

Ever since school days, we remember what a physical education lesson is: less important than physics and mathematics, and with much more loyal teachers. A student is unlikely to get a semester score for being absent from half of the lessons: the main thing is to pass the standards, at least for the sight. I remember my lessons now: some of my classmates are chilling on the benches, someone ran around the corner of the school, the boys are playing football, the girls are chatting. Of course, there is no necessary equipment. Teachers who need to do the lesson well try to cope with the available means. The rest are mostly busy with their own business.

Of course, this is not a perfect example of how a physical education lesson should go. We all know how useful sports are, and especially for children: they get healthier, socialize, and develop leadership qualities. Not to mention, regular exercise reduces gadget addiction and promotes healthy lifestyles. But instead of a correct and necessary physical education lesson, children go to additional classes in mathematics, parents buy them certificates, and teachers try to make the lesson interesting with the help of improvised means. Or don't try.

It is especially difficult for teachers in this situation: low wages, lack of necessary equipment, condescending attitude towards the subject on the part of students and their parents. Due to outdated methodologies, it is difficult for teachers to keep up with the times: children want to engage in new sports, fitness or fashionable dances, and not climb a rope. Physical education teachers for the most part do not know how to communicate with modern children, to introduce them to sports, how to become an example and a leader for students. Another problem is the lack of experience of most teachers in working with children with disabilities.

Inclusiveness is a separate topic of conversation. According to the State Statistics Service, more than 2.6 million people with disabilities live in Ukraine, of which 156 thousand are children! Not all of them are listed in national statistics, which is why they become "invisible" for the state and the public.

Children with disabilities constantly face stigma and discrimination in society, as well as numerous violations of their rights, from the lack of early diagnosis of disability to exclusion from education and participation in communities. Such children often lack psychological support from others and personal motivation.

The Parimatch Foundation has several programs with which we want to bring about change. Almost every one of us faced these problems: someone did not like physical education at school, someone could not run at a level with other children and suffered from it, someone could not find their favorite sport. Our goal was to reformat physical education lessons, starting with working with teachers. They often lack the motivation or knowledge to interest children in the subject. We focused on international experience: we looked at the level of physical education lessons in the USA and other developed countries. There, sport is the national idea of ​​the state, so physical education takes its rightful place among other subjects.

For this, we have created an online course, which can be joined by a physical education teacher from any corner of Ukraine, passed it and received a certificate. First of all, training will be aimed at developing soft skills among teachers: how to communicate with children correctly, how to become a leader for them, how to make friends between students. We will present new sports modules, as well as those already known to everyone, but with important additions – they are easy to implement in the educational process – and we will touch on the topic of inclusion.

To support talented children-athletes with disabilities, we also have a separate comprehensive program “So, I can!”. It aims to support children with disabilities and mental disabilities by involving them in sports. We try our best to:

Change the attitude of Ukrainian society towards people with disabilities. Unfortunately, this problem exists today. Many people avoid people with disabilities, are afraid to help them, or even deliberately hurt them. Bullying is especially common in the children's team.
Help children with disabilities realize themselves and overcome psycho-emotional barriers.
Promote the socialization and health improvement of children with disabilities.

For me, charity is primarily about giving and sharing something. Over time, the very concept of charity for me began to change. If earlier it was about help and sympathy, now it is more about systemic changes. This is not just giving out donations, but acting systematically in order to finally change all those social processes with which we are constantly fighting.

I chose to help children through sports and education. I believe that if we start raising children healthy and happy now, society will be healthy and happy in the future. These are changes that will benefit everyone.

Charity is not only about ladies in evening gowns and men in tuxedos with glasses of champagne, who collect fabulous sums to save wild animals. Charity begins with a sincere desire to help, internal metamorphoses that push a person to conscious consumption of resources and disinterested transfer of knowledge. Charity lives in each of us: we need to stop being afraid to do good deeds and start doing it as often as possible.

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