Sophia Sitzikia tackles her studies with a smile in LifeChanger FSU’s special education resource room at the Or Avner Jewish School in the city of Nikolaev in southern Ukraine

In January, LifeChanger FSU, a proactive human services organization in the Ukraine, celebrated the grand opening of its special education resource room at the Or Avner Jewish School in the city of Nikolaev in southern Ukraine, the first of its kind in Ukrainian schools. Thanks to the hard work of local volunteers and the support of donors around the world, the resource room is fully equipped for the inclusive education of children with special needs.

Though special education resource rooms are commonplace in Western public and private schools, they are seen as a luxury in the Ukraine. LifeChanger FSU’s trailblazing study space was originally set aside at the beginning of the school year for a young girl named Sophia Sitzikia who had been severely neglected and fell behind in her studies, but the room has been made available to all students receiving educational assistance from LifeChanger FSU now that Sophia has almost completely caught up with her peers.

“Sophia helped us understand the true potential of this incredible educational tool. She is a very bright girl who was misunderstood, neglected, and never provided with the tools and opportunities necessary to shine. Working with tutors in the resource room, she was finally able to study at her own pace, take productive breaks when need, and explore her potential,” said Irina Chernobryvetz, director of LifeChanger FSU.

“When Sophia’s father came to visit her in school, he could not believe her progress, and how much we were willing to invest in her future—this is just not the norm in the Ukraine. It’s projects like these that make all the difference, because they break the vicious cycle of neglect and indifference by promoting individualized academic success. This is so much more than just a room—it is a haven, an educational equalizer and learning accelerator, and a gateway to a bright future.”

In the two months since the resource room’s grand opening, three other children have been using the room regularly to find their educational footing, and they are all progressing beautifully.

LifeChanger FSU’s resource room is equipped with a special adjustable desk and chair, provided by the Mialux furniture company, a small trampoline, a fitness ball, bean bag chairs, and a music corner, and it is staffed by top-notch educational specialists, including a special education teacher, a psychologist and a neuropsychologist, who provide individualized instruction for the young students.

“The room is divided into different zones in which children with special needs can relax or redirect their attention to other activities as a way to cool down or psych themselves up for another lesson. It is an environment that nurtures and supports the child on their road to rehabilitation,” added Chernobryvetz.

“Our special education staff was carefully selected to help us not only provide inclusive education to our students but showcase the methods, so that we can pave the way for a more accessible educational experience for all children throughout the Ukraine.”

As the Ukraine sinks deeper into political and economic turmoil, unemployment continues to rise and nearly 60% of the population lives at or below the poverty line. Under these harsh conditions, and in the absence of social support services, distress and hardships are ignored and the most vulnerable Ukrainian citizens pay the highest price—children chief among them.

In just two years, LifeChanger FSU has dramatically changed the lives of more than 200 Jewish children living in the most economically repressed areas of the Ukraine, helping them integrate into healthy and empowering environments and guiding them towards sustained recovery and independence.

Learn more about LifeChanger FSU at


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