Step Up

We work with children and young adults from Moscow orphanages. Our mission is to help every child to learn and develop as a person, overcoming the negatives of an institutionalized past. Step Up is the first organization in Russia which, since 1999, has worked to provide orphans with a quality education, to motivate them to learn. We help graduates of orphanages to complete school, find jobs, pass college/university entrance exams. We provide specific help necessary to overcome the psychological complexes that plague orphans. We enable institutionalized orphans and orphanage graduates to make wise, mature and healthy decisions for their own live. We also work surmount and eventually change...
Dec 12, 2016

Stas

Stas with Tatyana
Stas with Tatyana

Stas is a young man living in the Belskoye Ustye Orphanage for physically and mentally disabled children. He is one of the most active participants in the summer and winter camps that Step Up runs from Novopetrovskoye.

Twenty years old, he has only lived in Belskoye Ustye for about the last two years after he was transferred from another orphanage along with his older brother, Denis. He is one of a group of young men and women in the orphanage who will shortly move to a special sheltered accommodation “village” the orphanage is constructing nearby.

We asked one of Step Up’s regular volunteers, Tatyana Melnikova, who has worked closely with Stas, to describe this remarkable young man:

“Stas is more of a gentleman than many young men you come across in “normal” life - he is very sensitive to everything. He has noticeably aged since we first met, although that was just over a year ago. He doesn’t know how to read or write and he says he has already finished school. When you ask him about it he readily talks about it, although, as you listen, you begin to understand that he is slightly embarrassed about his inabilities. Stas never complains about life at Belskoye Ustye but, like many of the children there, he fantasizes about how he will switch into an “adult life” where he will start work.

Stas has an irrepressible energy and he can’t sit still for even a minute. You have to constantly seek ways to interest him, although this is not very difficult because he is interested in everything — and if something is happening he has to be the center of attention. He doesn’t spare himself when he wants to achieve something. Naturally, he is particularly interested in anything that involves physical activity – press-ups, flips, pull-ups. It’s difficult to imagine the discos that are put on during summer camp without his enthusiastic dancing amid a circle of applauding children and volunteers.

Despite his energy, Stas is also a responsible person. He knows the rules of the orphanage – both those that are enforced by the carers and teachers and those that exist independent of these, among the children and young adults that live there. He knows what is good and what is bad, and he understands the consequences of his actions. It wouldn’t be a mistake to call him one of the favourites of the staff and volunteers at Belskoye Ustye. He has a bright character and is a kind and active person, simple and spontaneous.”

Stas at Summer Camp in 2015
Stas at Summer Camp in 2015
Stas & his group at Summer Camp 2016
Stas & his group at Summer Camp 2016
Stas on the dance floor
Stas on the dance floor
Stas at Summer Camp in 2015
Stas at Summer Camp in 2015
Aug 24, 2016

Second Generation Summer Camp

Step Up launched a new project in August this year – the Second Generation Summer Camp, which took place at Step Up’s Integration Center in Novopetroskoe village.

The project ran between July 24th and August 3rd (directly after the annual Summer Camp with children from Belskoye Ustye orphanage). A total of 19 people took part, including five mothers (involved with Step Up’s projects for orphans in Moscow) and nine children (aged 2 to 9 years old).

Second Generation Summer Camp was designed to help students and graduates of Step Up improve their parenting skills, to strengthen the relationships between parents raised in orphanages and their kids, and to boost the children’s intellectual and emotional development.

Financial difficulties generally prevent families of former correctional orphanage residents from having a proper vacation with their children. And stress-free time when they can enjoy each other's company is very rare.

Volunteers and Step Up staff organized a series of activities for the mothers and their children (both separately and together) during the camp. These included yoga, theater, cooking and drawing. Novopetrovskoe's location deep in the countryside meant there were frequent outdoor activities including swimming and short treks. Step Up also arranged for the mothers and children to take part in a day trip to nearby Pskov and get acquainted with some local firemen!

The success of the project means Step Up will look to repeat it next year — as well as using it as a model to help implement and develop other residential camps at Novopetroskoe.

Apr 20, 2016

Inna and Yoga at Belskoye Ustye

At Step Up, we place a high value on the work we do with volunteers — young Russian professionals and students.

Inna, who works as a manager in Moscow, is one of Step Up's brightest volunteers. She used her annual leave to attend Step Up's Summer Camp at the Belskoye Ustye orphanage in 2014 — her first experience of volunteering and working with physically and mentally disabled children — and she has since taken part in all Step Up projects at Belskoye Ustye.

In her free time Inna is interested in yoga and, last year, she enrolled in an intensive children's yoga training course in Moscow where she learnt the basics of the discipline.

Staff dismissals at the Belskoye Ustye orphanage means that the institution does not now have a single physical education teacher. During Winter Camp 2016, Inna ran a series of yoga masterclasses for the children at Belskoye Ustye, which were very popular among volunteers and children.

Here is a something Inna herself wrote about the experience:

"The classes were even more effective than I expected. Many became seriously interested in yoga, and kept asking when the next class would be. One older girl, who has cerebral palsy, said that, at first, she thought she wouldn't be able to do anything but she quickly realized there were a lot of positions that she could hold even in her condition. After the successful classes during Winter Camp I have continued running classes in Moscow, this time with autistic children."

Inna is currently in discussions with Step Up's Summer Camp coordinator about the possibility of holding a whole series of yoga classes during this year's Summer Camp for children, volunteers, and staff at the orphanage.

 
   

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