Viktoriya and Parker
Thanks to donors like you, Save the Children is able to support multiple initiatives to help children affected by the war in Ukraine. Here is an example of your support at work:
Canine Therapy in Ukraine
In Kyiv, Ukraine, Save the Children is supporting Your Way, an NGO running Child-Friendly Spaces and mobile groups which offer support to children and their families via specialists. The mobile groups are part of a project called Your Palms, which offer support to adults and children via specialists including art therapists, psychologists, and canine therapists.
As Project Coordinator Lina explained: “Our mobile team includes many specialists. We have several psychologists for children and adults and we also have a canine therapy specialist. We borrowed [the idea] from abroad, from the United States, from the West. This is therapy for adults and children with the help of therapy dogs. We also have an art therapist who works with the release of psycho-emotional states of children."
Your Support in Action
9-year-old girls Viktoriya* and Khrystyna* live outside of Kyiv, Ukraine with their families. To help the girls process their experiences of the war in Ukraine, they have taken part in canine therapy with Parker the golden retriever.
Parker is a therapy dog. Therapy dogs - or any therapy animal - can help children to open up more easily. Nataliya is a canine therapy specialist who, with Parker’s help, works with Viktoriya and Khrystyna. She explains more about how therapy dogs help children: “A canine therapy dog is focused on human stress. It’s focusing on finding and reducing stress.”
When Parker senses a child's stress he reacts. Nataliya can then read this reaction to identify what Parker sees in the child.
“The main and basic thing that a dog does is a mechanism called grounding. This is when people [can] feel themselves here and now and switch to other thoughts instead of thinking about the past or worrying about the future.” – Nataliya
Viktoriya shares her experience of meeting Parker, explaining: “We were playing with the dog. The way we were playing felt like love from Parker.”
Khrystyna also enjoyed her time with Parker. “[Parker] was showing us his tricks. For example, how he was trained to sit. He likes cookies. I was interested because my own dog knows only two commands: lie down and sit. It’s very cool when a dog is trained and knows what to do.”
Save the Children in Ukraine
In Ukraine, Save the Children and local partners run a network of child-friendly spaces and digital learning centers for children to access safe and inclusive education along with psychosocial support that helps them relieve stress and cope with the experience of war.
Save the Children has been operating in Ukraine since 2014, delivering humanitarian aid to children and their families affected by hostilities. It is now also supporting refugee families across Europe and helping children to access education and other critical services.
*Names have been changed to protect identities.
Andriy* gives Parker a hug
Children playing with Parker