From the 22nd-29th of May, the charitable foundation Sheredar, which is in Sosnovy Bor, 95 kilometres east of Moscow, organized its eighth rehabilitation program for children who have suffered from cancer. More than two hundred fortunate children have participated in these eight Sheredar rehabilitation programmes. This time, 25 children participated. They came from all over Russia; from Belgorod, Bryansk, Vladimir, Voronezh, Moscow, Novosibirsk, Ryazan, Samara, and St. Petersburg. Every child who comes to Sheredar has his or her own history of struggle with this terrible disease.
One child just completed a course of chemotherapy, another has just had a bone marrow transplantation, others have to relearn how to walk, talk, see in the dark and in the bright sun, believe in life and feel themselves to be carefree children once again. All of them have a huge problem with communicating with their peers. Many experience heightened feelings of isolation, increased anxiety and uncertainty of their own abilities.
âSheradaâs programs are based on the therapeutic methods of the International Association of Rehabilitation Camps âSerious Fun Childrenâs Networkâ. Professional standards are applied.
âParticipation in the programs is completely free of charge for children and their parents. We were fortunate to have benefited from having 25 volunteers with us on the May programme. They are students of psychological, pedagogical and medical universities; experienced staff of Russian childrenâs cancer funds, and just caring people. All of them were selected on a competitive basis, and then trained specially by Terry Dignan and teams of volunteers who had worked on previous Sheredar programmes.
âDuring the May program, the children were able to take part in exciting outdoor activities as well as taking part in various studio workshops and clubs. Horse-riding and archery lessons turned out to be the most favourite activities.
During the eighth program our first kayaking activities were held, which were conducted by our friends â professional athletes from the Russian Association of Rowing Sports.
âMany workshops such as jewellery, candle-decorating, soap-making, ceramics and fabrics-colouring were held. Every evening the children experienced unforgettable evening events, one of which was a magnificent concert held on the summer stage of the Sheredar camp for the first time.
Terry Dignan (Ireland), head of the rehabilitation programs Sheredar mentioned:
âA child who has survived a serious illness has lost a part of his childhood. Our program gives them back the inner feeling that they lost whilst at hospital. They recover their self-confidence and self-esteem.
âThe main aim of Sheredar is to help a child to overcome these challenges gradually and painlessly. Over eight days, the children are coached to handle their fears, to find new friends, to discover their inner potential which was blocked by their cancer, and finally, to understand that each of them has the right and the power to live a full, active and amazing life; just like any healthy person.
âOn the final day of the May programme, the children were able to demonstrate to themselves and their friends some of the skills they had learnt on their course. Individual and team performances, songs and dances, a photo exhibition â this is just a small list of what happened in Sheredar that day.
âThe main goal of all the rehabilitation sessions is to help children realize their capabilities and understand they can be successful in almost any sphere and direction! Some of the children will be back at Sheredar in September, others already feel confident enough not to need us any longer. But there are still many, many other children who have a real need for this kind of rehabilitation, and are not getting what they need.â
According to estimates, there are 15,000 Russian children under the age of eighteen who need to participate in a specially designed program of therapeutic recreation.
The next rehabilitation program will be held at the end of September and we hope to invite sixty children aged 7-13.
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