"Agents of Change": How students from the Junior Academy of Sciences help shape Ukrainian self-awareness

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"Agents of Change" is a project of the Junior Academy of Sciences (JAS), the mission of which is to help young people implement socially important initiatives. Agents of Change are active students from 8th to 10th grades from all over Ukraine who learn, create, and launch initiatives valuable to society and local communities together.

DestiNation.ua continues to tell the stories of talented children and teenagers from Ukraine who are changing the world in various ways - through inventions, innovative developments, and socially significant projects.

Today, we tell the stories of participants of the "Agents of Change" school, who have created projects that enhance the self-awareness of Ukrainians.

Uliana Osypova popularizes Ukrainian culture and raises funds for the Armed Forces of Ukraine

Change agent Uliana implemented the artistic project "Ukrainian Jewelry" to popularize Ukrainian culture in Ukraine and abroad. In addition, through the initiative, she raised funds for the needs of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

"Due to the beginning of full-scale war, I moved from Kharkiv to Banska Stiavnica in Slovakia. Here, together with the Ukrainian community from the first months of the invasion, I actively talked about Ukraine. Over time, I noticed that mentions of Russian aggression against my country became less frequent in the media and personal communication. It hurt me, so I decided to implement a project to tell locals about Ukraine, our history, and culture," says Uliana.

The girl knows how to embroider and work with beads - she creates necklaces and "sylyanky" - beaded necklaces in the form of ribbons - and explores the topic of Ukrainian jewelry.

"I found that each piece has its own story," says the researcher. "I was very impressed by the stories of how people survived, saved themselves with the help of jewelry, passed them down from generation to generation, and even found their fellow villagers through similar elements on the products."

Uliana runs an Instagram page where she talks about Ukrainian jewelry and participated in the Slovak event "Atmosphere," introducing local residents to our traditions and implementing several jewelry projects, the proceeds of which were directed to a demining machine.


Karina Husak implemented the project "Angels of Good" to help residents of one of the de-occupied villages

Karina is a resident of the village of Rubtsi, Donetsk Oblast, which needed help after de-occupation. At the time of the start of her project, her native village had been liberated for two months, but people could not yet return to normal life.

"So we started helping elderly people with household chores, organizing entertainment events for children, and sports competitions. What struck me the most was digging potatoes in the garden of a fellow villager's grandmother," says the young volunteer.

Karina showed that everyone can help. There are no small deeds. If they are realized in the right place at the right time, they have powerful results and contribute to a great path to change and victory. The main thing is that such initiatives become more and more frequent.


Olena Zenchenko created "The Unbroken" project dedicated to the stories of wartime in Shostka

During the first months of the war, Shostka in Sumy Oblast was surrounded by occupiers. The locals were scared but rallied and defended themselves from occupation. Olena decided to collect and publish stories of fellow citizens on Instagram and Facebook so that more people would learn about the trials of war, the thirst for freedom, and the desire for victory of ordinary Ukrainian citizens.

"Personally, the two conversations were the most difficult for me," shares Olena. "The first one was with my dad, who has been serving since 2019. It was painful to hear from a close person about his journey to hotspots, the loss of brothers-in-arms, and fear. And the second one was the story of Maxim, the husband of my cousin. We had a conversation, and in October 2023, he died... I still reread his memoirs with tears in my eyes."

The project is of great importance to the girl's fellow citizens: they read about their neighbors, acquaintances, friends, and learn about the contribution they made to help defeat the enemy.

"In general, my project demonstrates that people are not far away from the war, they are directly in it," emphasizes the girl.

Full stories of the heroines are available at the link.

Photos provided by JAS.


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