The Ukrainian Heritage School in Brooklyn offers a source of pride and strength in troubled times

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NEW YORK — Brooklyn’s communities with deep roots in Ukraine strengthen each other as they worry about their loved ones abroad.

CBS2’s Dave Carlin shows us how a school helps children cope.

The children’s voices brought tears to the eyes of some parents and staff in a Brighton Beach classroom.

The Ukrainian Heritage School is dedicated to preserving the rich culture and history of Ukraine. In these troubled times, it is a place to find pride and strength.

Dasha Kharuieva, 13, spends her Saturdays in art, history and language lessons at school. She moved with her family from Ukraine to Sheepshead Bay four years ago.

“All my grandparents are there, my cousins, my aunts, my uncles, my friends, my parents’ friends, and we’re really, really scared because everyone’s living in basements now. A lot of between them went to villages,” Dasha said.

“I hope they will at least get their freedom and everything will be fine there,” said another child.

“I’ve seen video of people in the NICU of a hospital having to move into, like, a makeshift bunker…and they’re keeping them alive on their own,” 13-year-old Julia Dashenych said.

To try to balance grief and anxiety, educators keep children busy, waving for demonstrations and conducting fundraising campaigns.

“I think it’s the best school,” said Oleh Dovhun, nicknamed the Ukrainian Pitbull.

The boxer visited the school with a pep talk to keep kids fighting for what’s right.

Dovhun says young people need to be given information about the war, but nothing too overwhelming. He adds that sports, school, and disciplines are productive ways to deal with your feelings about it.

“It is important for them to know who they are and they are proud to be Ukrainians,” said Myroslava Rozdolska, director of the Ukrainian Heritage School. “Our heart is there.

To avoid overwhelming children, conversations are cautious and adults control their own emotions, even when it is very difficult.

That’s what teacher Iuliia Dereka does with her 7-year-old daughter, Abigail, who attends the school.

“The stress that we go through, as parents, we have to cover it up because they see us. They see and they’ll copy our nervousness,” she said.

The message – stay strong, let’s get through this together.

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