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"To change public opinion about people with disabilities"

What was done by the "Good Deed" project in Vladivostok for 10 years

The social volunteer project "Good Deed", founded in Vladivostok by Gennady Antropov, marks its first serious anniversary - 10 years. It does not die out, but works and develops, it becomes known not only in Primorye, but in the country and even abroad, thanks to the enthusiasm and sincere love of people who dedicate their time and give their strength. What is real volunteering, to whom and why the project "Good Deed" is needed, its participants told EastRussia.

"To change public opinion about people with disabilities"
Photo: courtesy of Gennady Antropov
Gennady Antropov, creator and director of ANO "Good Deed", has been teaching at the Primorsky Art College for many years, he is a professional ceramist and specialist in pottery. And he and his wife are raising a teenage daughter with Down's syndrome. From early childhood, he began to teach his child to sculpt, to better develop the fine motor skills of the hands. On a visit to Antropov came children with similar mental problems, and with them Gennady Viktorovich also worked a little. Then he was contacted by the director of the Primorsky Regional Library for the Blind, Elena Kislitsyna, she asked to conduct classes with blind children. So ten years ago the studio of blind ceramists "Reflection" became the first project of the volunteer organization "Good cause".
- When I went to the first lesson with the blind, I had no idea how I would explain to them, and how they would sculpt. But in fact, it turned out to be simpler: they made the same mistakes as sighted ones, Gennady Viktorovich recalls. - The approach can be found to any person, regardless of the diagnosis. It has long been proven that art therapy contributes to the development - all the nerve endings on the fingers are tied. We studied according to the program, and then I understood: if we systematically train people with special needs, there will be a result.
For classes in the ceramic studio there were no age restrictions: both children and young people learned to knead clay, remove prints, and burn finished products. Several guys are so deeply imbued with artistic creativity that pottery has become for them a high-level hobby. Two participants of the ceramists studio "Reflection" were nominated for the All-Russian contest "Philanthropist".
- “A good thing” is a truly volunteer project, people in which work consciously, with great enthusiasm. And most importantly, such projects are important not only for people with disabilities, but for the whole city as a whole, because they help to change the opinion of healthy people about people with disabilities, ”says Elena Kislitsyna, director of the Primorsky Regional Library for the Blind. - Our guys did wonderful work, participated in exhibitions, so everyone saw that yes, they have health problems, however, they are interesting people who can do something useful for everyone, they are also full-fledged residents cities.
Since then, for 10 years under the "Good Deed", many projects have been implemented aimed at developing the creative abilities of people with disabilities. The charitable organization works because there are people who see this as their mission in life.
- Now many go to charity and volunteering, but only 2% of the crowd who have come first remain. And that's fine. Such work is really difficult, you need a strong motivation, a personal story, otherwise it will not work, says Gennady Antropov. - People, thanks to whom the “Good Work” is working, are ready to really give away a part of themselves, their life position has been formed. We are all united by the love of creativity and people. We are struggling, step by step, with the social isolation of people unclaimed in society.
Throughout the years Gennady Viktorovich is helped by volunteers, mostly local students are artists and ceramists. In 2008, they formed a youth group of volunteer students "Solar Wind". Tatyana Osotova studied at the second year of art school, when she first came to the ceramic workshop, and became one of the first volunteers.
- In the project I am realized as a ceramic artist, and at the same time I help people. I am very glad that our work is useful. We conducted master classes for children with mental disabilities, for the blind and orphans. Ceramics help a person feel like a small creator. For example, he will make a plate, and then eat from it or give it to a friend. It's nice, "Tatiana says. - Besides, ceramics are a good art therapy through the hands. When a person molds, his speech develops better, memory improves, and it is also a kind of relaxation, distracting from all problems.
In 2009, professional ceramists – volunteers participated in the VI Vladivostok biennale of visual arts with the project “Art Therapy: Russian Experience,” highly appreciated by Mrs. Mitsuko Takenauchi, who has been rehabilitating people with disabilities in Japan for more than 30 years. The following year, “Good Work” presented the works of its students with disabilities at an exhibition in Tokyo, and a year later at the exhibition “The Creativity of the Disabled - Unlimited Opportunities” under the auspices of the UN in New York.
On the next Saturday, November 18, an exhibition of mental handicapped people will be held in the socio-cultural center for people with disabilities under the disabled society of Pervomaisky district of Vladivostok. In this center are engaged in ceramics from 2010 year. Now classes are held every Saturday, in a group of about 30 people, among them patients of a psychiatric hospital.
- In general, we are engaged in children older than 18 years. This is the age when the problem arises, where to go to study. My son is a mental disabled person, he finished school, and afterwards we did not know where to go either. Then we met with Gennady Viktorovich, and he invited us to engage in ceramics. Modeling from clay is very useful, this process calms and develops motor skills, and also this is a good practical craft that will come in handy in life, "says Svetlana Knyazeva, head of the ceramic studio on the basis of a social and cultural center for people with disabilities. - When there is a child with a disability in the family, it is very important to feel that you are not alone in your grief. In the center we are all like a family: we help each other, every month we celebrate birthdays and other holidays.
With the support of MegaFon since last year, “Good Work” launched creative workshops in a special (correctional) boarding school for orphans and children left without parental care, with disabilities in Artyom. Classes are held every week. The main goal of the project is socialization and acquisition of practical skills.
- It is very important to teach children to work with their hands, because in the future this can become their profession, a way to make money. Each class employs an average of 15 people, this is both regular students and new ones. Other children draw on paper sketches, which then make an image on the product. Such exercises liberate children, make them feel needed, increase their self-esteem, ”says the director of the special school Svetlana Pavlenko. - It is very difficult to find specialists who would systematically deal with children with disabilities, because such work quickly becomes painful. “Good work” has been working for 10 for years thanks to people who sincerely help sick children and adults with health problems.
In addition to people with disabilities, "Good Deed" brings to the work of older people who retired.
- When a person retires, he is remembered for two or three years, then, as a rule, they forget. But in fact, many older people who are used to being active, they have great potential and have a desire to work, - says the project organizer Irina Zaitseva. - In the era of scarcity, people sewed, embroidered, knit, they now just go on a well-deserved rest, but, unfortunately, remain unclaimed in society. That pensioners did not sit at home, did not age in four walls, they are grouped in such creative associations. Good products we sell at charity fairs, and this also gives an additional opportunity to earn.
Uniting with partners, the "Good Deed" is also developing a theatrical direction. In 2015, a theater studio for people with a mental disability "The Open Door" was opened. The following year, a children's inclusive theatrical studio "In the name of good" was opened at the expense of the presidential grant together with the charitable foundation of Alexander Monastyrev and the Primorsky Territory Drama Theater of Youth. And in the same year, classes began in the integrated theater studio "Look" with blind actors, together with the library for the blind and the theater "TAN". At the moment, each theater has already shown its audience its premiere performance, and the work continues.
Last year, the Good Business was held for the first time in Vladivostok and showed films about the lives of people with disabilities in the framework of the international film festival Cinema without Barriers with the support of the Perspective NGO (Moscow Public Organization of Disabled People - EastRussia) and the Primorsky Territory’s Internal Policy Department. Gennady Antropov believes that people with disabilities are just as full members of society as healthy people, but the problem is that our society is still not sufficiently informed, and when faced with a disabled person, people are lost, they do not know how to behave. And it's better to see once than to talk for a long time. Now the 2 film festival “Cinema without barriers: regional echo” is taking place, film screenings will be held in Vladivostok and Artyom.
“At the moment,“ Good Work ”is a team with which it is easy to move forward, implement new projects and set ambitious, sometimes seemingly impossible, tasks,” says Gennady Antropov. - We have accumulated a large and valuable experience of training and adaptation of children and adults with mental disabilities, visually impaired and other health problems. Thanks to everyone who was and is next to me. Thanks to these bright and responsive people, the project lives and develops. The secret of our success is simple - everything that you do should be a joy.
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