"Nadiya"(надія) is the Ukrainian word for "hope". It's also the name of the main character in the new interactive app that we've created to help families like yours who may have experienced loss and trauma. Nadiya is completely free, and is playable on Android or iOS. It offers scientifically-validated therapeutic exercises for mental health, in a game environment designed to appeal to children aged 5 to 11.
Nadiya fills an urgent need. There are more than 7.5 million Ukrainian children; many have undergone experiences in these past months of war that no child should ever have to go through.
Faced with the multiple traumas of violence, displacement, and separation from their loved ones, these children may develop mental health issues, such as PTSD, depression, anxiety, self-harm, and thoughts of suicide. Without proper intervention, these issues can persist even into adulthood.
Nadiya gives you and your child the skills you need to guide you through these darker moments, and to help you find both light and hope on the other side.
The app was developed by Apart of Me, a UK-based mental health charity, in partnership with Voices of Children and the Ukraine International Association of Psychologists For Grief and Severe Loss.
Nadiya takes place in a magical woodland realm where you'll meet a friendly and wise Guide. The Guide tells you about a girl (Nadiya) who needs your help. She was walking through the woodland when she encountered a Troublesome Spirit. Nadiya was so frightened that she decided to transform herself into a tree in order to hide.
The Guide needs your help to free the child trapped in the clearing, and to reconnect her to the rest of the forest. To do so, you will need to complete healing exercises that will help you build inner strength, cultivating qualities such as Compassion, Calm, and Courage.
The clearing in the woodland will grow into a magical garden that you will take care of together. As you do this, you will strengthen your relationships as a family, learn how to be kinder to yourselves and others, become more confident in your ability to navigate difficult times, and rediscover hope.
Research from previous conflicts has shown that the most effective psychological interventions are those that strengthen the relationships between parents or carers and their children.
Based on this, we've developed Nadiya to offer:
The overarching aim of the app is to strengthen the relationship between parents and children, supporting both in maintaining the family's mental wellness.
The seeds of this project were sown when Larisa Rybyk, President of the Ukraine Psychology Association, contacted Apart of Me co-founder Louis Weinstock after she came across his work on childhood loss. Larisa lost her husband during the fighting in Ukraine in 2014.
This prompted her interest in helping children cope with bereavement and as a result she set up an organisation in Ukraine to support children and their carers affected by this issue.
Now, Larisa has been streaming on Facebook and YouTube every day, trying to offer psychological advice to parents, carers and other mental health professionals. She has told us that the burden that she and other mental health professionals in Ukraine are carrying is devastating and the need is overwhelming.
Larisa giving her daily psychological support broadcast to Ukrainians.
"Because of this war in Ukraine, more and more children with trauma are joining our schools and preschools. Some children have PTSD and hide under the table whenever they hear loud voices."
"I feel very overwhelmed with everything that is happening. NGO's I'm working with are trying to prepare some procedures but we're all learning on the go. And to be honest there is so much to be done it's almost paralysing."
"We just came from Ivano-Frankivsk where the airport was bombed. Roman [6 years old] is scared of windows now. He's even scared to go to the bathroom because he knows there's a window in there. Roman was crying all the time asking 'why can't dad come with us?'. He was crying so much yesterday and he didn't even realise it was the last time we might see him."
"These little children are heroes, they want to be saved, that's all. They are witnesses, they are not guilty and it's unfair. They are innocent. We need to educate people how to deal with trauma, make them aware of their emotions and help them cope with emotions and build resources. We need to create a guide for parents on how to protect their children and what disturbing signs to look for."
Nadiya will support Ukrainian families immediately, but we don't want to stop there. With your support, our app will become a vital resource to support displaced families and communities around the world who are living with violence and fleeing war and conflict. Donations will also be used to refine and expand Nadiya, providing extra psychological support for families so they know they are not alone in times of crisis.
Please click here to find out how you can help.
Apart of Me is a multi-award-winning UK-based charity that combines playful design and technology with expertise in child psychology to guide children and families through loss and trauma. For A Safer Place, we're partnering with: