Texas Rotarians let kids be kids at camp for Ukrainian refugees

A child viewed from above assembles a wood block as part of a puzzle of several wood pieces
A child works on a craft project during the four-day recreational camp at Peaceable Kingdom in Killeen, Texas. Photo by Oliver Smith, Rotary Club of Northwest Austin.

By Shannon Coleman, governor of District 5870 Central Texas, USA

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, the United Nations estimates that more than 14 million people are thought to have fled their homes. We began hearing about some of these families through our Ukrainian community here is Central and South-Central Texas. Children are entering our school systems with only the clothes on their backs. Many of the families have experienced violence, war, a shortage of food, water or shelter, personal injury, and disease.

Wanting to help, Rotarians in our district applied for a Disaster Response Grant from The Rotary Foundation to work with Peaceable Kingdom by Variety, a children’s retreat/camp in Killeen, for a three-night, four-day recreational experience over the Labor Day weekend. We imagined a space where the Ukrainian families could connect with their community, step away from the reminders of war, and take a much-needed deep breath. We wanted to give the children a place to explore, laugh and just be kids.

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