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'They have opportunity to meet friends here': Ukrainian kids part of a new performing group in Saskatoon


Ukrainian newcomer kids in Saskatoon are finding a new kind of support system – an exercise group that's helping them deal with the ups and downs of moving to a new country.

For Katherine and Sophia Bondarenko being a part of a trampoline fitness class with other kids like them is something they look forward to.

“It’s fun and it’s nice. We dance a lot. We like to dance on the trampoline,” Katherine Bondarenko told CTV News.

They fled their homes in Ukraine with their family after the Russian invasion, now they join other children from Ukraine at a trampoline fitness class twice a week. It’s helping them bounce back from the trauma of war.

“It was kind of good that I’m now playing with Ukrainian friends here. So I can have Canadian friends and Ukrainian,” Alisa Moskaleva said.

The 11-year-old Moskaleva goes to a primarily English-speaking school in Saskatoon, so having this chance to speak in her native language at fitness class is valuable.

The class started in the fall with instructor Oksana Troian who also fled Ukraine.

Troian was hopeful the fitness class would improve the students' transition to a new country by leaps and bounds.

“They have opportunity to meet friends here. They like to come here because they’re happy here. They’re running and playing. They can also speak to each other,” Troian said.

Troian was a fitness instructor in Ukraine so she wanted to do something meaningful and give back to other newcomers in her new city.

She got busy getting grants and that’s what paid for the trampolines. St Georges Ukrainian Catholic Church donates the space twice a week, and the word spread with about 30 kids joining.

“We have kids, the youngest is 5 years old, and 15 is the oldest one,” Troian said.

They have a performance coming up on Saturday which is an exciting opportunity to show their skills to an audience.

“The last dance will be mixed with trampoline and Ukrainian dance,” she said.

It will be a fundraising concert at Bethlehem High School and it’s open to the public. Funds raised help children in orphanages in Ukraine as well as those with disabilities.

“They can help kids from Ukraine to be a little bit happier than they are. I want to teach them to be kind and help other kids and people and be grateful that they came here.”

The hope is to continue the class next fall and maybe even get their own larger space with mirrors.

Ticket information for the concert can be found here. Top Stories

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