The supplementary education centre for children and youth ‘Kontakt’ recently hosted an event that many had been expecting for a long time. Young disabled artists received copies of the newly published calendars illustrated with their works. The publishing house of Saint Elisabeth Convent printed the calendars with the blessing of its spiritual father, Andrey Lemeshonok.
The centre ‘Kontakt’ has welcomed children and young people with disabilities for many years. Its visual arts studio “Raduga” [Rainbow] opened its doors to disabled children and youth in 2002. The leader of the studio, Natalya Kokhanchik, is a teacher of visual arts. She has nine students in her class at present. Her students’ works have received multiple awards in contests and exhibitions for young disabled artists and received certificates of recognition from Unicef. The works in the calendar are remarkable for their bright, saturated colours and confident brush strokes.
All the students have loving and supportive families, who also attended the event. The boy’s mother Svetlana says, “It is amazing how well my Sasha can paint now and how much he has learned. He used to have difficulty holding a pencil. It has been an inspiring and uplifting experience for us. We have also got to meet a lot of good people. Most have become like family to us. Of them, Natalya, Sasha’s art teacher, was among the first. She is a woman of great talent, and she is exceptional. She invited Sasha to the studio. She can teach anyone to paint, and I recommend her to all the other parents in full confidence.”
Also among the guests was Archdeacon Yaroslav Blizniuk, director of the Sunday school at the Church in honour of the Icon of the Holy Theotokos "Joy of All Who Sorrow".
Archdeacon Yaroslav Blizniuk
“We have conducted our ministry among children with special needs for many years,” says Father Yaroslav. “We always welcomed the opportunity to work together and to be around for them. We have always treated them as equals, like any other person. We give them our love, and expect the rest to come by itself. When people realize their potential, we are excited. There are so many people who never put to use their God-given talents despite their much broader capabilities. We are delighted to celebrate today the impressive achievements of these young people of great resolve and determination and the great work of their dedicated teachers.”
Photos by Ekaterina Nesterova