Young Ukrainians have inspirational hope for the future of their country – though it is wracked by war. A new all-Ukrainian  study “Teenagers and Their Life during the War: Moods, Values, Future” reveals the impressive resolve these young citizens have. 

Approximately 95 percent of young people believe their country is going to win this war. Encouragingly for its future, 70 percent want to study and live in Ukraine. And 90 percent of teenagers express a desire to be ‘useful to Ukraine,’ while another 43 percent are active volunteers in the war efforts – despite their youth, they do whatever they can. From tearing down residential buildings destroyed by Russian tanks and artillery to using their digital prowess to be entrepreneurial journalists.

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The charity foundation “Club Dobrodiiv” with the support of the humanitarian organization Plan International conducted a study to understand how full-scale Russian aggression affected Ukrainian teenagers with special attention to what they think about their current lives and their vision for themselves in the future.

Surveys conducted by Kantar, a leading data, insight and consulting company, among teenagers aged 13 to 19 from all over Ukraine show what young people are most concerned about today - whether they have sufficient support from family and friends, how they see what they can do right here and right now, and where they are planning to build their future. Will it be in Ukraine or abroad?

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“In fact, these studies give voice to teenagers who should be heard loudly.. In addition, we have placed great emphasis on self-realization,” Maria Artemenko, founder and head of the Club of Virtues, told Kyiv Post.  “We were interested in how teenagers’ vision of their future development in Ukraine has changed [during Russia’s full-scale invasion].

“Compared with previous data, the percentage of young people who see their future inside Ukraine has increased. Moreover, young people express a desire to actively participate in the reconstruction of the country. They want to take more responsibility, but, according to them, adults perceive them in a childish way.”

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According to the results of the study, only 33 percent of teenagers whose experiences are focused on the uncertainty of the war want to go abroad to study for their university degrees. But this third then want to return to Ukraine. 

However, the vast majority don’t even want to leave the country. On the contrary, teenagers are making their own contribution to the victory of Ukraine.

“I don't want to leave my country because I was born here,” said Kyrylo Peredriy, notably a 12-year-old journalist from Pokrovsk, Donetsk region.So, I want to help and be useful to my homeland. Now I record interviews, at least to introduce the residents of my city to outstanding figures and in general to raise the morale of Ukrainians.”

Club of Virtues head Artemenko added: “In general, our experience of communicating with international organizations shows that Ukraine has a powerful civil society with people who don’t want to be just consumers. That is, we don't just want to get help - we want to get tools to build our country.”  

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Moreover, the war significantly aggravated the problems that began during the COVID-19 pandemic - namely the lack of live human communication, and the repetitive monotony of everyday life. Russian aggression has also contributedto constant anxiety for indiviuals and their loved ones - which hinders self-actualization. It is impossible not to mention power outages, problems with the internet and constant air alarms that distract from the educational process. 

Although most people have found planning their future to be more difficult, almost a quarter of teenagers have found what they want to do with their lives during the war. Now 67 percent of young citizens of Ukraine have discovered who they want to become. 

In addition, teenagers note that for the most part, it’s not the external consequences of the war that block their implementation, but internal factors.

According to respondents, most lack support from their parents. And only 25 percent find support within themselves. Nevertheless, 93 percent of young Ukrainians still believe their internal strength will carry them through the present times. And 90 percent believe that they will be able to make enough effort for their own self-actualization. 

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“In my family, we value our traditions, and this love for the country has sprouted in me through all the difficult events in the country,” 15-year-old Milana said.  “I am extremely proud of our country. And I want to personally make efforts to establish Ukraine. And I am sure that in the future we will be one of the best countries in the world, because we have great potential.”

Even though about half of young people feel they are experiencing significant overload during this war, 76 percent find time for their interesting, favorite hobbies. At the same time, teenagers now mostly draw from social networks. They consume educational and entertainment content on Tik Tok and YouTube. In addition, short videos teaching foreign languages are popular. In Telegram, young Ukrainians track current news in the country - both local and national. 

 “I mostly watch video interviews with Ukrainian journalists,” Kyrylo Peredriy told the Kyiv Post.  “However, I would like to see more high-quality Ukrainian-language content. There are also not enough Ukrainian entertainment shows and films."

In fact, young people in Ukraine, while growing up, face a number of obstacles and challenges that can be defined as “significant historical events” - namely the Orange Revolution, The Revolution of Dignity, the hybrid war in the east of the country and the Russian occupation of Crimea, the pandemic and finally a full-scale invasion.

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Today, a whole generation has already grown up on the ideas of Ukrainian statehood, which so strongly inspired the participants of the Revolution of Dignity.

“Based on our research in different countries, there is a general trend around the world - young people have become more conscious and active in building their future,” Mia Haglund-Heelas, head of the Plan International Mission in Ukraine, said. “Of course, the situation in Ukraine is more complicated, which contributes to the early maturation of children.”

Summing up the results of the study for the Kyiv Post, she added: “Young people say that they want to change something and become stronger. Young people have ideas and want the state and others to give them the opportunity to try to implement all their opportunities, including ideas.

“So, our organization wants to support children all over the world - especially in Ukraine.

“We want the authorities to hear Ukraine’s young citizens."

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“However, I would like to see more high-quality Ukrainian-language content."
It will be fascinating to see how Ukrainian-language content evolves as these young people grow from content consumers to content creators.

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