‘These children escaped physical abuse, but we need to protect their mental health,’ says footballer Andriy Shevchenko during emotional visit with refugee children – Poland
- Ukrainian soccer legend Andriy Shevchenko calls on the global community to focus on the mental health and well-being of refugee children
- Ambassador Laureus speaks during an emotional visit to a program for young refugees in Poland
- Shevchenko heard about “TeamUp”, a psychosocial support intervention developed by War Child, Save the Children and supported by Laureus
- To access content from Andriy Shevchenko in Warsaw, visit https://www.contenthubsavethechildren.org/Package/2O4C2S8D2ZH7
WARSAW, July 25, 2022 – Ukrainian soccer legend Andriy Shevchenko on Monday called for more mental health support for young refugees after a surprise visit to meet children who fled the horrors of war in his home country.
He visited a summer school in Warsaw that helps Ukrainian children catch up on missed learning and games. Since the escalation of the war five months ago, at least 5.8 million Ukrainian refugees have been registered across Europe, half of whom are thought to be children, many of whom have no access to education for weeks.
Save the Children’s summer schools for children from Ukraine in Poland provide a safe haven where young refugees can improve their education, mental health and psychosocial well-being.
Shevchenko, 45, a former captain and coach of the Ukraine national team and striker for AC Milan and Chelsea, spent time at school where he visited TeamUp, an intervention designed to improve mental health and the psychosocial well-being of children through play. TeamUp was developed and delivered by War Child and Save the Children and is supported by Laureus Sport for Good, of which he is an ambassador.
Shevchenko said: “Almost three million Ukrainian children have been forced to flee their homes in the past five months because of the conflict. The physical impact of war is obvious, but we cannot forget the psychological impact on these young people. It is not enough to remove a child from war. We must take the war out of the children.
“Sport has an incredible power to break down barriers and create hope in times of despair. Today in Warsaw we saw the best of sport and gaming in action at fun and inspiring TeamUp activities. I am proud and grateful that Laureus supports initiatives like this, in partnership with War Child and Save the Children, to help these children and their families. We must continue to work together for the future of these children.
Shevchenko, won the Ballon d’Or in 2004 and retired from professional football in 2012. He returned to the sport in 2016 as assistant coach of the Ukrainian national team and was appointed head coach in 2016 through 2021, leading the nation to a quarter. -UEFA Euro 2020 finals. He was most recently head coach of Serie A club Genoa.
Many of the children Shevchenko met live with uncertainty, fear and distress on a daily basis. Even when they find safety in another country, they are often quiet and withdrawn or cheeky and bossy. Summer schools give these children the opportunity to explore and process their emotional experiences with sport and play, while ensuring that they do not fall behind in their learning.
TeamUp is an innovative, scientifically proven method of movement, play and sport that helps conflict-affected children aged 6-18 manage their emotions and relieve stress from their bodies. TeamUp sessions are also fun, encouraging kids to move, play and laugh together so they make new friends and find a more positive attitude.
Each TeamUp session consists of activities that have a specific focus related to a theme such as managing anger or stress and interacting with peers. The sessions are implemented according to a set of fixed principles: “same place, same face, same time” and take place at least once a week.
Frank Velthuizen, TeamUp Program Director at War Child, said: “Children are naturally resilient, but they need our support to become like children again. We appreciate the opportunity Laureus provides to do just that with TeamUp; not only in Poland but all over Europe.
Basile Ema Ebede, Save the Children Poland Response Team Leader, said:
“Ukrainian children have been through so much in just five months. Being forced to flee one’s home is a life-changing event that often results in negative consequences that can linger for years. Our teams continue to witness the psychological and emotional impacts this war has on children.
“The most important thing is to provide children with a safe and secure space where they can express their fears and worries. Our summer school programs in Poland and across Europe provide a supportive and nurturing environment where Ukrainian children can maintain a sense of normalcy while engaging in supportive play and learning activities. Activities like sports and games can help children release stress and anxiety. Children in Ukraine see things no child should ever have to see.
Earlier this year, Laureus established its “Sport for Peace and Humanitarian Action Fund” to help alleviate the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in and around Ukraine. The fund enables Laureus to respond more quickly and with determination to support the world’s most vulnerable in the face of crises. With this fund, Laureus was able to provide early support for the TeamUp program.
Laureus Sport for Good works with over 250 community sport organizations around the world who use the power of sport to fight violence, discrimination and disadvantage faced by young people. Together with our partners, Laureus Sport for Good has reached and helped change the lives of over six million children and young people since 2000.
Laureus is a global movement that uses the power of sport to transform the lives of children and young people. In 2000, Laureus founding patron Nelson Mandela said “sport has the power to change the world”, and these words have become Laureus’ philosophy and the driving force behind its work. Since 2000, Laureus Sport for Good has enhanced the power of sport to change the lives of over six million young people and currently supports over 250 programs in 50 countries and territories. The annual Laureus World Sports Awards celebrate the inspirational power of sport, from the most successful athletes and teams to sportspeople who use their platforms to change society.
About Team Up
To learn more about the TeamUp methodology, the academic research behind the intervention and the use of TeamUp around the world, click here: https://www.warchildholland.org/intervention-teamup/
We believe that no child should be part of war. Already. We help children find hope in the darkest times of their lives. Inspire them to remember their joy, happiness and freedom. We believe in the power of listening, empathy and consolation to save children’s lives. But we don’t believe blindly, rigorously testing our beliefs and practices. Put into action what works. Even so, we know there are far more children in need than War Child can support on its own. We cannot do this by ourselves. This is why we want to share our passion, our knowledge and our actions.
About Save the Children
Across Ukraine and Europe, Save the Children is responding to the immediate needs of children and families by providing cash assistance, food, clean water and hygiene items, and supporting children’s access education through digital platforms and summer schools. Save the Children’s specialist teams also provide social and recreational services through our child-friendly spaces, helping children access safe, inclusive and quality education, and working with schools and community centers to provide mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS).
Save the Children exists to help every child have the chance to have the future they deserve. In more than 100 countries, we ensure children stay safe, healthy and learn, finding new ways to reach the children who need us most. For a century, we have defended children’s rights and ensured that their voices are heard. With the children, for the children, we are changing the future for good.
For more information visit: https://www.savethechildren.net/
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