The Initiators of the “Feel by Yourself” Project to Shoot a Documentary about the Fate of People with Disabilities

The initiators of the “Feel by Yourself”: PU “Civic Guard” and NGO “Bridge Ukraine-EU” began preparation for the shooting of the documentary “We Do Exist”, which will show the life of people with disabilities in Ukraine.

The film idea belongs to Head of NGO “Bridge Ukraine-EU” Natalia Sevidova, who says that the idea of the film appeared with the beginning of the war. “Visiting military hospitals and helping our military you feel their pain, you know that standing aside their problems is a crime,” – says Natalia.

Together with other volunteers and community leaders, we started to think where these people are coming back, where they will work, or will they be able to get to the store, hospital or their apartment.”

Natalia Sevidova, adds that having combined the efforts of several NGOs and volunteers from “HEADMEDIA,” they started work on the script for this film.

The aim of the documentary is to attract attention of healthy people to lives of people with disabilities in Ukraine. “We show the realities of people with disabilities of various ages, says Natalia Sevidova, – We want to show the world that the state has made these people “social prisoners,” actually hostages of their apartments. This film is a heart cry of caring people. Ukraine has had a war for a few years and many of our guys return with injuries. Protecting the country from the enemy, many of them lose their arms and legs, and become dependent on a wheelchair.”

Stories of people with disabilities from Kirovohrad region are central in the film. “Kirovohrad region has been chosen from several reasons, – says Natalia Sevidova – first, I was born in Kirovohrad and spent many years there. Second, Kirovohrad region is a geographical centre of our country. And third, Kirovohrad region is among the leaders in number of guys called up to the army. This is a land of glorious 3rd Special Forces Regiment and the legendary “Cyborgs.”

Shooting of the documentary will start on February 15.

Natalia Sevidova “It’s Hard to be Strong…”


On February 3, the National Museum of Taras Shevchenko opened its doors for a photo exhibition “The Winners,” which is part of a large multimedia project created jointly by TSN, VIVA magazine with the participation of the NGO “Pidmoha.info.”


Social initiative “The Winners” tells about Ukrainian soldiers and volunteers who were seriously injured in the war and live with artificial limbs. The main multimedia content of the project is a series of photographs by a Ukrainian photographer Oleksander Morderer, in which the characters show that people with disabilities are full members of society and remain positive, beautiful and full of energy. The magazine VIVA published a series of interviews with these heroes of modern Ukraine.


When meeting these guys mutilated by war in the streets we should not cry, sympathize with them or give them money. All these things insult and demean them, – Ivanna Slaboshpytska, Chief Editor of VIVA appealed in her speech to the guests of the exhibition. – The best you can do is to treat them as equals – the thing that the wounded soldiers value and need.


The head of NGO “Bridge Ukraine-EU” Natalia Sevidova also attended the presentation of “The Winners.” She was very much impressed and moved by the power of young guys who, upon coming back from war with terrible injuries, do not lose optimism and faith in the future. “It’s hard to be strong… I am impressed by our heroes; they change the world for the better!” – summed up Natalia.

Photo exhibition “The Winners” will be open for public until February 21, 2016.

Natalia Sevidova “Public organizations should unite to learn from each other, but not compete”

On December 11, as part of the social initiative “Feel it by yourself,” PU “Civic Guard” and NGO “Bridge Ukraine-EU” held a round table “Public Accessibility in Pratice. Equal Rights for All Citizens of Ukraine.” Among the participants of the roundtable were officials of the Kyiv City State Administration, representatives of the Department on Human Rights, Non-discrimination and Gender Equality Secretariat of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights and representatives of more than ten NGOs that protect the rights of persons with disabilities.


The participants of the event raised urgent issues of protecting the rights of people with disabilities: accessibility to public places, correctness of timing when talking about persons with disabilities. During the discussion, Yuriy Krykunov, Director of Social Policy, KCSA told that some NGOs do not want to unite because they perceive their colleagues as competitors.

Head of the NGO “Bridge Ukraine-EU” Natalia Sevidova notes that in a country where there is war and hundreds of fighters as a result of injuries become disabled, such competition is in fact a crime. She added that all public organizations need to unite to learn from each other, but not compete.


Speaking about the difficult situation with public accessibility for persons with disabilities and information problems with their employment, Natalia Sevidova recognizes that the state is unable to cope with this task. Therefore, she calls on public organisations for unity and activity.

Natalia Sevidova stresses the importance of joint work on protection of the rights of people with disabilities, adding that the problem of disability is not a problem of a person, but a common problem of the whole society.

Participants of the round table considered a resolution, the text of which is given below:


“Public Accessibility in Pratice. Equal rights for All Citizens of Ukraine”

Kyiv, December 11, 2015

We, the participants of the round table “Public Accessibility in Pratice. Equal rights for All Citizens of Ukraine,”

analysing and summarizing the known problems with the public accessibility (institutional, physical, financial, mental, informational barriers) in Ukraine,

given the fact that our country continues fighting and Ukrainians protect its territorial integrity and defer the aggressor, which conducts large-scale military operations in our country using heavy weapons that increases the number of people with disabilities in Ukraine,

reaffirm our concern of low general level of accessibility for people with disabilities to most public places, public transport and services, unsatisfactory level of tolerance in society.

We set priorities and recommend them for implementation by city, village and settlement heads, legislative and executive bodies, business entities to actually make qualitative changes in legislation and public control to ensure the equality rights of all citizens of Ukraine in the implementation of their constitutional rights.

Despite the constant declarations of the state and all levels authorities regarding the problems of people with disabilities, the situation is still complicated: a large number of institutions of different ownership is inaccessible for disabled people, construction and renovation of public spaces is conducted with violations of construction norms and without taking into account the needs of people with disabilities; a large number of people with disabilities cannot get a job; the state does not provide them with the necessary medicines in full. All these factors lead to the formation of the so-called “social prisoners” – people who actually cannot get out of their own homes.

The current legislation is imperfect and somewhat outdated, while the owners of the unsuitable premises do not have sufficient motivation to equip them with ramps or other means of unhindered access for all. In this context, the declared priorities of state policy are only subject to rhetorical exercises by politicians, causing only a sense of disappointment and frustration for people with disabilities.

Assistance of state and local authorities to improve accessibility in practice comes to taking on a variety of programmes, which, at best, are unsystematic, and overwhelmingly have declaratory nature and repeat same events every year.

Based on the above, we offer:

  1. To create an association of NGOs that deal with people with disabilities to monitor compliance with legislation for people with disabilities by authorities and local governments;
  2. To make all-Ukrainian monitoring on public accessibility and publish its results in the media;
  3. To develop recommendations to authorities and local governments to overcome institutional, physical, financial, mental and informational barriers for people with disabilities and work out an action plan for the control over their observance;
  4. To create and legalize electronic form designed by city, village and settlement councils for communication of people with disabilities with city, village and settlement heads;
  5. To raise the level of tolerance and indifference in society towards people with disabilities by creating respective audio-, video- and visual content;
  6. To conduct round tables “Public Accessibility in Pratice. Equal rights for All Citizens of Ukraine” in all regional centres of Ukraine and on their basis create recommendations for local authorities with regard to specifics of the region;
  7. To develop a “map of public accessibility in Ukraine” and bring the maximum number of people with disabilities to its creation;
  8. Develop a training program of correct and tolerant coverage of events related to persons with disabilities for local media;
  9. To seek media leaders with a proposal to create permanent programs to cover the lives of people with disabilities;
  10. To publish the Resolution of the roundtable in the media.
  11. To apply for membership of NGO representatives who took part in the round table in the Public Council established at the Kyiv City State Administration.

We believe that compliance with legislation regarding people with disabilities by state authorities and local governments, as well as active cooperation of the authorities with public organizations and associations in the observance of the recommendations made by these NGOs and associations is the key to equality of all people regardless of health, increase of tolerance in society, establishment of social dialogue between all sectors of the population and affirmation of Ukraine as a European state.

Natalia Sevidova: “I believe we should eliminate such words as “invalid” or “person with disabilities” from our vocabulary”(VIDEO)

On Dec. 3, at its 47th session in 1992, the UN General Assembly by its resolution no. A/RES/47/3 declared an annual world event – International Day of Disabled. The measures to which the UN calls on all countries this day should be to integrate people with disabilities in our society.

As part of the initiative “FEEL IT BY YOURSELF” Head of NGO “Bridge Ukraine-EU” Natalia Sevidova and Head of Communications of PU “Civic Guard” Ihor Vyun held public inspection of several facilities in Dniprovskyi and Darnytskyi districts in Kyiv, devoting this social experiment to the International Day of Disabled Persons.

During the social experiment public figures tried to simulate normal situation that people in wheelchairs face every day, like driving through the city, going to the clinic or to the mall. “People who helped us, were informed of this experiment – adds Natalia Sevidova – as besides the accessibility of certain public places, it was important to us to understand the accessibility of hearts and souls of the people we met on the way.”

The route was chosen by chance: we started from a bus stop near the metro station “Livoberezhna” and then used several types of public transport. After, we checked the accessibility of the clinic in Dniprovskyi district, and one of the shopping centers.

After the experiment Ihor Vyun, who was as a “man in a wheelchair,” admitted that Kyiv today is not designed for moving in a wheelchair and it’s difficult to do it without someone’s help. The initiator of the project “FEEL IT BY YOURSELF” Natalia Sevidova, who traveled as an escort, was moved by tolerance of Kyivites and their willingness to help.

“I am confident that our vocabulary should not contain words “invalid” or “person with disabilities,” said Natalia Sevidova. Let December 3 become the day when we would again remember that we are all different, as well as our needs. The day when everyone would ask himself, what did I personally do to make moving easier around the city or in the country, or how I can help anyone. These questions shouldn’t be left without answers”


Representatives of the NGO “Bridge Ukraine-EU,” PU “Civic Guard” and PA “Mother’s Heart” participate in a Nationwide Council of Members of Local Committees on Accessibility organised by National Assembly of Disabled People of Ukraine on the basis of the Western Rehabilitation and Sports Centre of National Sports Committee for the Disabled of Ukraine (village of Yavoriv, Turka district, Lviv region).

During the meeting participants will analyse the work of committees on accessibility in 2014-2015, and present best practices, as well as review the peculiarities of the inclusive approach to decision-making in their work.

The event takes place from September 29 to October 3. Organizers are planning to organize a flash mob in support of the new project “BEZMEZH” which starts on October 1.

“Inspectors in Wheelchairs” in Kirovohrad, as part of “Feel it by Yourself” Initiative

Nationwide social project “Feel Yourself” is gaining momentum. On Friday fourteen people with special needs gathered in the main square of Kirovohrad. Their goal was to inspect accessibility of Kirovohrad infrastructure for disabled people. Every inspected place would have to receive a special label. “There are two types of such label: one proves that this place is friendly to people with special needs, the other means that no one is expecting here disabled people,” – says the Head of the NGO “Bridge Ukraine-EU” Natalia Sevidova.

The first site to check was the building of Regional State Administration. State servants acknowledge that the building does not meet the needs of people with disabilities, all government offices are on the upper floors. Oleksander Chornoivanenko, the Head of regional council, doesn’t see a big problem, he says that in case of necessity a civil servant can go down to a visitor in a wheelchair. Natalia Sevidova, in turn, proposes to move offices that are responsible for taking important decisions on the ground floor. By the majority of the “Inspectors” votes the RSA receives a negative evaluation.


Especially negative evaluation got the City Council. Wheelchair access is extremely difficult, and officials are especially aggressive. Talking to “inspectors,” the City Council Secretary Ivan Markovskyi tried to accuse the activists of political bias, and failed to name the exact number of vehicles equipped with ramps. The proposal of Natalia Sevidova to test the entrance ramp Mr.Markovskyi rejected, calling a trick the campaign to check the accessibility of public places.


“Conversation with Mr.Markovskyi left a negative feeling, – said Natalia Sevidova – as he demonstrated disrespect for the community and incompetence in many vital issues for the city.” The “inspectors” unanimously “awarded” the City Council building with two non-friendly labels.


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In general, 20 buildings in the city centre have been inspected. Only two of them received the status of “friendly.” One of them – a cafe in the supermarket “Silpo.” Café management welcomed the assessment of “inspectors” and invited for further inspections.


Natalia Sevidova notes that initiative “Inspectors in wheelchairs” is not against officials or owners of inaccessible premises. Its purpose is to make life of disabled people as comfortable as it is possible. The participants of the campaign will once again inspect the buildings on the same route and figure out whether the attitude towards people with disabilities has changed. “I hope that they will overcome their own indifference and will do everything possible to improve access to their facilities for such special visitors.” The organizers of the nationwide project “Feel Yourself” promise to launch such inspections in other regions of Ukraine.



The three NGOs: PU “Civic Guard,” PA “Mother’s Heart” and NGO “Bridge Ukraine-EU” launched a nationwide social project “Feel it by yourself”.

Purpose: to attract the attention of society and authorities to the problems of people with special needs, finding ways to solve them, increase tolerance, fight indifference in society towards people with disabilities, as well as social adaptation of military and volunteers that became invalids during the hostilities on the temporary occupied territories of Ukraine.

Goal: to develop and implement changes in the current legislation of Ukraine in the field of social policy, namely:

– to create standards for the construction and renovation of existing buildings to meet the needs of people with disabilities;

– to develop mandatory standards of the construction of public transport, taking into account the needs of people with disabilities;

– to create rehabilitation centres for medical and psychological care;

– to develop information materials for people with disabilities, describing specific problems and definition of specific government agencies responsible for such problem solving;

– to establisht public control in the local government and central government agencies over the implementation of legislation regarding disabled people needs, through the formation of community councils, composition of which should include, first of all, representatives of NGOs dealing with the problems of the disabled people;

Mechanisms for implementation:

– Holding public inventory of public areas, as part of the social project “Feel it by yourself”, for the needs of disabled people, thus uniting all concerned about this issue;

– Creation of TV programs for central and regional TV channels on coverage of problems of people with disabilities;

– Involving people with disabilities in the development of required legislative changes, taking into account the real situation;

– Creation of a system of communication between disabled people and care agencies, local government through social media;

– Attracting of international grants to create communication programs for people with disabilities and drafting legislation.

Social Project “Feel it by yourself”: Let’s Overcome Indifference and Inaccessibility Together!

NGOs: PU “Civic Guard” and NGO “Bridge Ukraine-EU” initiated a big social project “Feel it by yourself”. Its goal is to draw attention to the problems of mobility impaired people and the ways to solve them, as well as to increase the level of tolerance in Ukrainian society.

“The idea for this project appeared long ago,” – says head of NGO “Bridge Ukraine-EU” Natalia Sevidova – the war in Ukraine has lasted more than a year and it takes the lives and health of our children. Hundreds of people return to civilian life with multiple injuries. And we all have to understand that there is a problem with the perception of these people who were at war. So far, most healthy people prefer to ignore those people around.”

The impetus for action was the roundtable, which was held in June. Mothers of disabled children told about the inaccessibility of most facilities for people in wheelchairs. Participants talked also about the unavailability of the necessary costly medicines due to lack of public funding. People complained of the indifference of officials at various levels.

“I understand that we need to act now – says the Head of the NGO “Bridge Ukraine-EU”. – That’s why we launched the project “Feel it by yourself”. The first and very important step became public examination on accessibility to public places. We took a wheelchair and went to examine public places. Our activist Ihor Vyun became a volunteer for this experiment.

In fact Ihor Vyun has been our “Public Inspector” for a few years. “Being a journalist, especially on TV, you often need to check a lot of staff – he explains. – One time you’re a patient at hospital, the other time you’re a person who orders something on the phone or on the Internet. “Ihor says that he got into a role of the “man in a wheelchair” in a few seconds. The only worrying thing was to cope with such a difficult running vehicle.

Natalia Chushchenko provided a wheelchair for the project. Natalia used it at home. “Mobility impaired people in Kirovohrad feel not confident, says Ms. Chushchenko. Ramps are only in the downtown, but it is difficult to climb them. Even if the ramp is present, it does not mean that the building is available. After all, most authorities that take necessary decisions are located higher than the ground floor, which is problematic for people with disabilities. Another big problem is irresponsible people who block the ramps at the stores by their cars or even cause damage to wheelchair tires. A flat tire in a wheelchair means, in fact, many hours stoppage until assistance arrives …”

“In fact a lot of laws for mobility impaired people have been created, but most of them are not implemented, – the project cofounder, Head of the PU “Civic Guard” Eduard Zeynalov says. According to him, officials are not willing to deal with problems of people with disabilities. “Society needs to change its attitude to these problems. After all, if we all do not let officials engage in “formal replies,” we will force them follow these laws. Another important issue is the adaptation of our soldiers who received injuries in the war and returned to civil life. It is important to create the possibility for free move in settlements where they live. And much depends on us – healthy people- who should unite in order to help people with disabilities.”

Public examination of reaching public places is only the first stage of the project. Its importance cannot be overestimated. It provides understanding of the “starting point”: how many ramps are available, and whether they are available or available at all. “We carefully study the reaction of others on mobility impaired people, adds Natalia Sevidova. –So far, it is far from ideal and above this, we all need to work on it. And most importantly, we all need to understand that we often underestimate ourselves and only our concern can improve or save someone’s life.”

The results of the work will be presented by public activists of PU “Civic Guard”, and NGO “Bridge Ukraine-EU” on their own sites and in social networks. We would like other community organizations and people with active life position join our initiative. Welcome to the Club Who Care!”