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Globally acknowledged at only 18! Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Olexi, Ukraine Apr 1, 2005
Child & Youth Rights   Interviews
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Denis Stepura: "The only way for us to receive serious treatment was through doing our job done better than adults would ever dream".

Denis is currently 18. He is the president of an independent media center „Children’ Voice” in Kyiv, Ukraine. At the age of 15, he, with a number of his peers, he won a journalist contest that focused on the rights of children. The winners received a proposal to create an organization that would work on behalf of children. Only 15 years at that time, they have accepted the proposal and with the help of a World’s bank grant launched a media center which is now nationally and internationally acknowledged. In 2003, they were awarded a prestigious prize by One World Radio and UNICEF for the best radio show for kids. The subject they have chosen was street children.

Denis shares his story of success:
"Only a few years after its foundation the media center became a huge success and really made a difference for so may children and teenagers in Ukraine.
Currently the center’s team consists of nearly 15 persons, Aged 14-19, they run the media center entirely. They are journalists, video and comics’ makers, web-designers and animators".

-Denis, your first success and a turning point in your work was a radio show about homeless children, how it all got started?

"It was understood both on part of the donors and organizers that peer-to-peer approach to solution of children’s issues would be the most appropriate.
In 2003 a radio program created by our center won a prize from One World Radio and UNICEF as the best radio show created by children and for children. We have created this program from our experience in talks with kids who live in the street of Kyiv, capital of Ukraine. We interviewed them asking about their interests, expectations, life stories and how they got to live in the streets. All the stories were very moving and shocking for us and it’s really great that the issue has received a more serious treatment because of our job.
Now we also produce video reels, cartoons and comics but at that time we have picked radio, coz it was the sole media accessible to every young person in Ukraine.
Radio appears to be the most popular mass medium with the youth, at present we have over 40 radio shows in our stock. They are of different duration, dedicated to AIDS/HIV prevention, healthy sexual behavior, education and etc".

- what keeps you motivated?

"I think that our experience will inspire many other youths in the world. Not so long ago we were awarded a Cyber Oscar for the best ICT project. Unfortunately none of our representatives could come to Geneva to receive the prize that coordinator of the Global Knowledge Partnership was awarding then. We received a copy here in Ukraine during an international forum housed by Ukraine-based fund ISU – information society Ukraine".

- How did international success spurred your domestic affairs in Ukaine?

"Indeed the international acknowledgement and awards that our center received, have positively influenced the attitude towards children-run Media center in Ukraine. Prior to this it was hard for us to get in touch with our users via state and private-owned media. Mass media simply ignored us, but as we approached topics that we had picked , more and more seriously we finally managed to break the ice. After an award by UNICEF and One World Radio we received good press coverage in Ukraine. Since then we were sure that we are able to highlight children issues better than adults could.

A great number of regional and national radio stations have translated our radio shows since then, including such commercial stations as Radio Chanson, radio Era, radio Dovira and other top Ukrainian radio stations.

TV stations have paid us less attention, but we managed to overcome this obstacle. Socially oriented videos reels that we have elaborated were broadcasted by Novy Channel, UT 1 and regional TV channels. And as well, our works on HIV/AIDS prevention were translated on Kyiv metro stations".

- tell us about representative world forums you have been part of

"Invited by Kris Shub, coordinator of UNICEF in Eastern and central Europe we have participated in a training focusing on creation of one-minute long videos. Our first product was good enough to encourage further exploration of video-format. Our next step was project “Listen up beyond borders” - project of 9 countries form 5 continents. We made a video dedicated to fears that youths have. It was featured during film festival in Saint-Francisco and others.

Often we are invited to representative world forums. The most serious was the 4th Summit on Media, Children and Youth in Rio de Janeiro. I was invited to lead a panel on part of European UNICEF network.

Soon I’ll participate in the European Congress of youth that is to take place in Scotland. The subject is Millennium Development Goals. It is a representative forum where about 600 youths will participate".

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Ukrainian student, journalist and a planetary citizen. I invite you to take a look at Central's Europe largest state- Ukraine through Olexi-tinted spectacles. Somewhat approaching unbiased subjectivity :)
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