Posted by: Lyudmyla Kyrylenko, Office of Defense Cooperation
For the students of School #168, a school dedicated to the integration of children with special needs, October 7, 2015 was not an ordinary day at school! On this date, approximately 600 kids assembled in the courtyard to witness a ribbon cutting ceremony to dedicate their newly renovated school. The event was attended by school staff as well as U.S. Military personnel which included Col. George Milton representing U.S. European Command (EUCOM), Mayor Vitali Klitschko and other distinguished guests.
The school has received a new façade which includes a mural of Taras Shevchenko, a famous Ukrainian poet. It also had all of the windows replaced, the roof repaired, a new elevator installed, handicap railings installed in the hallways, updated plumbing and a fantastic new auditorium. The renovation was carried out by a local contractor, ACE, who has successfully conducted one of the largest scale humanitarian assistance renovation projects in Ukraine. The work was overseen by Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) and the Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC). The school was winterized with new insulation which will help keep the school warm and dramatically improve energy savings, as well as quality of life and safety of the children.
The renovation costs exceeded $550,000 and were provided by EUCOM under its humanitarian assistance program. The local management and city authorities facilitated all required construction permits, arranged for additional internal renovations of the hallways and provided 2,000,000 hryvnias from the state budget to fund parts of the project not covered by the contract.
Obolon School #168 historically maintains a strong relationship with the U.S. Embassy within the “Access” program. The school itself partners with many national and international organizations that deal with inclusive education. Representatives from various organizations were in attendance and brought gifts for the children. This project highlights how military officials and community leaders can work together, including international partnerships, public diplomacy, and civilian stability.
In his opening remarks, Milton noted that the ceremony was not only about the renovated facility, but what the school represents. He went on to say how the school represents the community and the very children it will serve. In closing, he said that school #168 is about touching the lives of children and making their future brighter.
The United States Military Humanitarian Assistance projects are committed to the health, safety, and education of Ukrainian children and that doesn’t end after the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The U.S. Military is investing in local communities and they plan to continue to support schools by delivering excess property to furnish renovated premises.
The U.S. Military is committed to giving back to communities and building a global partnership. This school is a perfect example of this commitment. It is through projects like this that communities are built!