By 1st Lt. Kealy MoriartyNovember 10, 2018
KRAKOVETS, Ukraine- Soldiers from the Tennessee Army National Guard visited the Academic Rehabilitation Center for Children with Special Needs to meet with the children and help build their playground.
The center is home to approximately 48 children with special needs where they stay during the week, attend classes and practice physical rehabilitation and therapy.
The Soldiers visited with several of the children at the center each week and got to know a few of them closely.
"It was absolutely an unforgettable experience to make children smile and a great opportunity to show them we care," stated Spc. Kristina Brown.
Maj. Terry Bell, the Chaplain for the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment assembled the Soldiers to help at the center.
"One of the goals for the Unit Ministry Team for this deployment was to establish a cooperative relationship with a worthy organization that would allow our Soldiers an opportunity to serve the community, stated Bell. "During August and September over fifty Soldiers volunteered at the Center building benches, improving yard areas, conducting fun activities, and assisting with the potato harvest."
The Soldiers also helped with the center's project "Making a Dream Reality" where they helped build the school's new playground. This project took a few months of planning, gathering equipment and landscaping. The director for the center, Nataliya Frankiv, hosted a fundraiser which brought several members of the community to help in funding for the playground.
"We receive enormous support from American soldiers, they helped us with area beautification, they were here to help in building the playground," stated Frankiv. "It is great to see that they are not afraid of any kind of work we need their assistance with."
The center hosted an opening ceremony in honor of the various people who helped in their project. The children performed for the crowd and proceeded to play with the Soldiers in their new playground.
"We are so blessed to be a part of this project in building a playground for the children to enjoy," said Sgt. 1st Class John Bryant.
The 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment from the Tennessee Army National Guard is deployed to Ukraine supporting the development of their combat training center.