This is Sasha (14), who escaped from our Polish-Ukrainian theater summer camp this summer.

Sasha has experience in escapes. He recently escaped from a bombed-out city. He is on the autism spectrum, but his mother chose not to tell us this when she signed him up for our summer camp. Perhaps she decided that this information was unimportant in view of all the misfortunes that had befallen her family recently? We actually don’t know why.

So, when Sasha decided to escape through the fence on the first day of the summer camp, the instructors considered removing him from workshops because he was a danger to himself and others. That day it occurred to us that several other parents had left children with special needs, without telling us. Honestly, the theater instructors were devastated. Even though they had been working with children and teenagers (including those from the so-called difficult backgrounds) for over 15 years, on the first day of our summer camp they had no idea what to do.

That day, children drew pictures from their own imagination. All Polish children painted flowers, butterflies, mountains, and the sea. You can see Sasha’s drawing below. It’s a black and white image with tanks and the words “war in Ukraine.”

We took a risk and decided to have Sasha join us.

The summer camps continued, and the children were given new tasks. They got to know the Dębniki district, formed Polish/Ukrainian pairs and teams, created an urban game, costumes and events for their neighbors. They went to a nearby park and swung in the trees. Together. Under the careful but discreet supervision of instructors.

After 10 days, the children again painted what they were thinking about. Sasha called his painting, “The Door to the World of Imagination.” Please see it below. Behind the open door you can see a fairy-tale world: blue sky, a large castle on green hills and a river reflecting the trees growing above it. Everything is colorful.

Sasha finished the camp and went home with his mother. We don’t know what he’s doing today, this was a few months after the holidays. But this one picture of a castle that Sasha painted will stay with us forever. When someone asks why we do this, we show Sasha’s pictures. It explains everything.

*the boy’s real name is different, the rest of the story is true

* Theater semi-camp was held as part of the “Land-scape resolution” project, for which we received a grant from the Raszewski Institute (“Summer in the Theater” program), and it conducted for us by specialists from the Figure Theater Kraków: Tatiana Nikolaeva, Dagmara Żabska, Denis Lemaikin , Anna Książek.

* Facebook – Link to a film documenting the “Summer at the Theater” campaign in Dębniki.


You can save someone’s world.


Kocham Dębniki Foundation
Konfederacka street 4/5
30-322 Kraków, Poland


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