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Our Centers for Creative Activities and Sports
Our Center for Creative Activities is open seven days a week from 0900 to 1900 with a two hour break between 1300 and 1500, Each day is divided into four time periods, and children are divided into four age groups: two for elementary school and two for middle school and high school. Programs include art therapy, crafts, singing, guitar lessons, English classes, exercise, dance for children, and three hour program on Sunday afternoons for mothers. Table tennis is always an option for play, as is the keyboard/piano. Plans this fall include classes in cooking led by a local restaurant chef and equipment to record music. 
This Center has three rooms and a small office. As it is located at the lowest level of an apartment building and mostly undergound, it qualifies as a shelter during air raids. But it is important to note that while Izmail, sounds an air raid signal because it is part of the region of Odesa, it has not been hit with rockets or bombs since the beginning of the war. It is equipped with heat and airconditioning, two power banks for power outages, and an electric generator.
Though the Center for Creative Activities has programs for learning, the bonus is the relationships developed between mothers and between children. These relationships are a powerful therapy for those traumatized by their experience of this war. 
Our Center for Sports is open five days a week. In the late fall, winter, and early spring, we rent a local gymnasium with a net for tennis and a large mat for exercise. In the remainder of the year, space is rented at a local tennis club for outdoor activities. Both indoor and outdoor programs include activities for down syndrome and autistic children.


We Supply Products


When displaced families arrive in Izmail, they go first to the City Offices to register for monthly income that is dependent on family size. On the door to that City Office is a sign that reads, “For further help, Call this number.” The number given is the cell phone number of our Director of Programs for This Child Here, Olya Balaban. When they call, we meet them at a local grocery store. They are invited to get what they need and we will pay for it. The amount is based on the number of children in the family. We also buy clothing and shoes as needed. Sometimes we will pay for medicine. 


This is how we meet families that arrive in Izmail. Many families have funds to support themselves and do not need this help from us. Those we meet, we invite to come to our Centers for Creative Activities or Sports. 



Summer Camps


We have recently finished our second year of a program near the Black Sea in Varna Bulgaria. Each summer, we take two groups of 50 people, mothers and children, to a former Soviet era hotel for a week of activities and time on the beach and in the sea. 


This is a time when families bond and support each other, a time a some guided activities, and time in the water. Water is good therapy for people who suffer from trauma. In his best selling book, The Body Keeps Score, Bessel Van der Kolk writes about the ways in which trauma affects mental, emotional and physical health. However, he writes, it does work backwards. What you do with your body can also help heal your mental and emotional health. Water has that property. The moment your body feels water of the pool or the sea, your feelings within also change. 


Program for Mothers


Every Sunday from 1500 to 1800, from twenty to thirty mothers gather at our Center for Creative Activities. We begin with games for the group as a whole. This is followed by a time of singing, and then a time for casual talk and tea. For the final session, the group is led by a psychologist. Through the use of Conversation Cards mothers receive a picture and are invited to speak about it: what they think it means and what it means to them. As the women sit in a circle they speak or pass when their turn comes. This is followed by a time when art supplies are distributed and mothers are encouraged to draw or paint as guided by a theme. Again the psychologist leads them as they are invited to share their artwork with the rest of the group. 


Again, this is an opportunity to go within and explore feelings and emotions and share with others. It is also a time when relationships are strengthened. Mothers bond and support each other. The experiences of safety, shelter, and trust are vital to readjustment from the experience of trauma.

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