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RPCV-Rotary Collaboration Supports Youth Mental Health

RPCV-Rotary Collaboration Supports Youth Mental Health


RPCV-Rotary Collaboration Supports Youth Mental Health

When the RPCV Alliance for Ukraine, Partnering for Peace, and Friends of Moldova were honored with the Ruppe Award for Outstanding Community Service in 2022, our co-nomination was not only for what we had already done, but for what we were working on together. We knew then that collaboration would be key to continue supporting Ukraine beyond just the early response to the invasion.


The nomination video mentioned a Rotary Global Grant that was then in the works - a grant that came to fruition in 2023 and provided $35,000 for a youth mental health program in central Ukraine. 

“Unfortunately, we find ourselves in a state of full-scale invasion, and the consequences will be something we deal with for decades. People need to be prepared for what will happen to them [...] The goal was for people, despite experiencing trauma, to feel safe and accepted.”

~Natalia Hurets, psychologist who provided grant-funded trainings

Hear directly from the partners and participants in this project recap video, and read more below!


Women seated at a table focus intently as they draw on papers in an art therapy training session

Educators and psychologists practice art therapy methods they can use in youth-serving settings


About the Project

Program highlights included a peer mental health and leadership program in which student leaders received training to then help facilitate summer retreats for combined groups of local and internally displaced youth. Grant funding not only paid for the training and four summer retreat sessions, but also equipped an outdoor retreat location that can now be used year after year. The development of the retreat area even got official support from the city council!


Smiling people pose with flexed arms as they paint wooden outdoor furniture

Young volunteers paint and seal wooden furniture for their community's new outdoor retreat space


Additional project components included training sessions for parents, gatherings for internally displaced families, and training for school psychologists and educators to deliver art therapy sessions in their communities. The local gymnasium was a key participant in the training programs. Overall, the project impacted more than 600 Ukrainian youth in one summer. Those who joined the multi-day retreats provided survey feedback and reflections. One participant, who moved to the area as a result of displacement from the war, shared the following:

“Here there is fabulous nature. At first everything was unusual, but it became good when I acclimated. The most valuable thing was the people - that I made friends here, because for a long time (before this retreat) I did not have friends.”

~Youth retreat participant

Surveys and evaluations also generated constructive feedback for the program to continue into the future. 


Teens rest in colorful hammocks hanging from trees in late afternoon sunshine

Although there were plenty of structured activities at the summer retreat, youth also had time to rest in nature and get to know each other


The grant was written by Ukraine RPCVs Cortney Copeland (Board member, RPCV Alliance for Ukraine) and Shannon Carter (Board member, Partnering for Peace) for a program designed by Shannon’s former counterpart from service, Oksana Chervyakova of the Zolotonosha Youth Development Center. Rotary sponsorship and funding came from Rotary District 2232 e-Club of Ukraine and the Las Vegas WON Rotary Club. 


Opportunities with Partnering for Peace

Partnering for Peace (P4P) is an all-volunteer non-governmental organization (501c4) established and led by Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) who are also active members of Rotary International clubs across the United States and worldwide. The board members and members of this organization share a unified global vision focused on nurturing partnerships between domestic and international Rotary clubs and both returning and in-service Peace Corps Volunteers to enhance collaboration on international projects at the grassroots level.

RPCVs  are encouraged to directly engage with P4P's board members to explore the benefits of the established partnership between Peace Corps and Rotary International. Furthermore, RPCVs are eligible to apply for the Rotary International Peace Fellowship and for funding through Global Grants for post-graduate education opportunities and research. If sponsored by a Rotary district, RPCVs can also use Global Grants to fund projects like the one Shannon and Cortney supported in Ukraine. 

For more information and to discover potential collaborations, please visit the following links and consider joining P4P's network of dedicated individuals:

 Friends of Moldova Still Going Strong

While Friends of Moldova was not a partner on this particular project, since we mentioned them at the beginning as a fellow Ruppe Award winner, we want to take this opportunity to celebrate their ongoing good work as well! You can learn about their support of Ukrainian refugees in Moldova on their website and on Instagram. They recently provided new winter bedding for local Moldovans and Ukrainian refugees in need. 

Разом ми - сила!

 March 16, 2024