Crawley College ‘honoured and humbled’ by special visit from children of Chernobyl

25 June 2019

It's the simplest things that can put the biggest smiles on children's faces.

That was the lesson for healthcare and childhood studies students at Crawley College last week, as they discovered when they spent a morning with children from Chernobyl.

The students entertained the children, aged from seven to 12, with a number of hands-on activities - from painting to football - and in return were treated to beaming smiles, hugs and songs.

Children of Chernobyl

Every year, the children affected by the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster visit Sussex for four weeks as a respite break thanks to the charity 'Friends of Chernobyl's Children'.

And for the past seven years, students and staff at Crawley College have been working with the charity - providing fun activities as well as fundraising support.

Last year the college raised more than £1,800 for the charity - enough to sponsor two boys to come to the UK this summer.

Lecturer Kirsty Robinson has spearheaded the college's involvement since 2012. She said: "Although it has been more than 30 years since the Chernobyl disaster, it still has a massive impact on families from the area.

"For some, they have suffered health problems but many families live in abject poverty as a result of the disaster. The area has never recovered economically and it is hard to imagine what life is like for these children.

"For us, it is humbling. For our students, they have an opportunity to learn about the children and how their lives can be transformed.

"We have the honour and privilege of meeting some truly special young people. It is remarkable."

Children of Chernobyl

Crawley College student Shannon Wilson added: "I think we all enjoyed the morning with the children from Chernobyl.

"I've learnt a lot and I have a lot more knowledge and understanding about how they live, but they are still so happy. I think it puts a lot of things into perspective."

Sheila Nash is the co-ordinator the Mid-Sussex group for the Friends of Chernobyl’s Children.

She said: “All of us involved with FOCC Mid Sussex are really grateful for the wonderful support the Crawley College staff and students have given us over the years - both the fun activities they provide for our kids each summer and the amazing fundraising effort last year, which will more than pay for our little twins’ visit this summer and some towards the next year.

“It's so good that both our children and the Crawley students benefit so much from the link we have created.”