Oleg Abornyev interview for Radio of Slobozhanschina .
THIS VIDEO with English subtitles
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Radio of Slobozhanschina and CreaVita Organization present
NEED TO OVERCOME
Corr: We invited Fitness and Bodybuilding World Champion – Oleg Abornev. He is a recipient of the award “Need to Overcome”. We have already told you in our previous programs that “Need to Overcome” is an annual city award to people with reduced capabilities, but who have gained achievements in public, social, cultural, and sport life of Kharkiv.
The “Need to Overcome” project has been established in 2013 by city civil organization CreaVita and supported by city mayor Gennadiy Kernes.
Today I met with Oleg Abornev, as I told you already. He suffers problems with his orthopedic system, so he needs to move on his wheelchair. He became a winner in the sport category within the “Need to Overcome” Award category.
His profession is community development worker, but he devotes his life to sports. Oleg, we are happy to welcome you here!
Corr: As far as I know, you managed to combine sports and your duties of public development worker. And you are economist by the second higher education, am I right?
Oleg: Yes, I made that. We are wheelchair people, but we have to stay proactive in our life. We must do our best to make the world around us better.
Corr: Why do you think makes people become proactive like you are? Most disabled people, as sociologist and phycologists consider, are passive. They usually stay at home and watch their TV, and only 5-7% of them are the real fighters, who eager to do something in their life.
Oleg: This is true. I have seen two types of people: the first, after they were injured and got into a wheelchair, they simply give up on their life, and the second they achieve success after they are rehabilitated. I believe there is no other choice: you have to fight and reach your goal. Life is a competition. And in our case, the life of people with reduced capabilities is even a harder competition.
Corr: How was your childhood? You were not able to play in the yard with other children. And you had to study at home instead of going to school. Nevertheless, you are full of life energy and feel the need to overcome your difficulties.
Oleg: In fact, I did communicate with children equal in age. I have to thank my parents for that. They have supported me in gaining the education and communicating with other people. We were travelling in the ex-Soviet Union countries a lot. I believe the communication that I had with other people, made me learn the skills I really need to today.
Corr: You were travelling you said…
Oleg: For treatment reasons.
Corr: I see. If we consider education - you have three higher education already, - what do you think, how should education be organized for people with reduced capabilities? Should it be something specially arranged? Or should there be in usual institutions some facilities arranged for such people: libraries, classrooms, canteens, and in fact all servicing?
Oleg: First of all I believe such people must have an opportunity to communicate with other students to be socialized. When we work with orphans, I always try to get volunteers involved, so they see how important it is for these children to be socialized. The volunteers can also feel how good they do when they support children and people with special needs. Therefore, I believe it is of great usage to support student to communicate with people with special needs, on wheels, or other reduced capabilities.
Corr: We’ll talk about your work with children later on. Now let’s talk about your main activity. Help me to be correct: you are the World Champion on Bodybuilding, am I right?
Oleg: Yes. In fact I have already become the World Champion on Fitness and Bodybuilding twice. That was on one of the resorts of Slovakia. And at that time I had already won the Ukrainian Championship many times and the second prize for arm wrestling on the European Championship.
Corr: I have a simple question, but it is not that simple I guess: how you do your trainings? How do you get to gyms? I mean how do you overcome the infrastructure we lack in Kharkiv?
Oleg: As of today, I had to change to another gym, which is closer to my home. The gym where I meet with my trainer is far away and it is difficult for me to get there. It is a real problem for me.
Corr: You have a trainer you said, right?
Oleg: Yes, I meet with him sometimes, but not that often, unfortunately.
Corr: And the reason is because of the infrastructure?
Oleg: Yes. Our city works on these problems, but it is not yet completely solved.
Corr: Let’s think together: what else should be done in the city? The program we are recording right now, the “Need to Overcome”, is aimed to raise the issues we need to overcome and not just be happy about our achievements.
Oleg: First of all, if talking about ramps in the houses, we have to consider the angle of the ramps erected. The existing ramps (because we still lack them) are often too high and you cannot come over it by yourself. Some places do not offer any such facilities: doors are tiny, etc. It is a real problem. When we had a visit to Europe, we saw a lot of specially designed public vehicles with lifting equipment.
Corr: A usual bus and tram, but they have designed special lifting equipment?
Oleg: Yes, they have. CreaVita offers transporting, and we thank them a lot, but it is not enough.
Corr: Yes, it is not enough. You have to queue to get the transportation. And this makes disabled people feeling like beggars: please help us and do that, etc. And it is a kind of humiliation.
Oleg: Yes, humiliation is a problem we often face. And the transport facilities are not enough, if talking about all disabilities, such as blindness, orthopedic system troubles, etc.
Corr: I read your biography, and find that you launched a project in 2001 on supporting Kharkiv city orphans. Are you still doing the project?
Oleg: Yes, and I hope it will continue, because we still have such a need.
Corr: Tell us about the idea of the project.
Oleg: The idea is that we try to cooperate with volunteers to provide interactive classes to children. These classes are various including Christmas and New Year celebrations, but also weekly meetings with children.
Corr: So you simply visit orphanages?
Oleg: Yes, we visit the 8th orphanages and many others.
Corr: And who are the people who come with you?
Oleg: Me and my mother and many other volunteers whom I know. And we always prepare volunteers before the classes, so they know what to do before they meet children. We also know proactive people, who simply want to support and share their skills with children. Volunteers do this because, despite the fact that children are feeling a bit better in orphanages nowadays, they still lack socialization. They still don’t know how to find their place in the world after they graduate from their boarding schools.
Corr: And you speak with them about that?
Oleg: Yes, we do. We always discuss such issues. We try to stay in touch with the graduates too.
Corr: So what do you think is not enough in the boarding schools? They offer education, support to learn house holding, but when children graduate, they still lack skills and knowledge. And nobody waits for them in the world.
Oleg: We communicate with children with different diseases: cerebral palsy and poliomyelitis and other. But the thing is that they are taught how to live and adults make decisions for them, and when they graduate, they are not taught how to make decisions by themselves. The same is true of house holding – we have recently started working with children and I can tell you they cannot live independently. The simplest things, for example, they don’t know how to make tea.
Corr: Because the tea is made for them.
Oleg: Yes, because they are not involved. We have also visited children who are healthy. They are also not able to find their place in the life.
Corr: How many children are there with such reduced capabilities? Does anyone take care of their integration into the inner world? How does it go with their education?
Oleg: I cannot tell you exactly how many wheel-chaired children are in the boarding schools, but I have met some.
Corr: And what are the problems?
Oleg: Again it is all about socialization. They study at home or in the school, but it is not enough. So we try to have these classes, which are up-to-date. The first problem is the low self-esteem. They see themselves as disabled and think they are worse than other healthy children. But I always insist that they are not worse, they are special.
Corr: And they have to know how to live with their special needs.
Oleg: Children from boarding schools, when they enter universities, often face the same problem – the integration into the society of students.
Corr: How you perceived the world and yourself in the world? How it happens? You first feel shy because of disabilities and then get used to or stop thinking about that? And get understanding that you exist and move with wheels. Or maybe there are some other ways to understand how to live? How did you deal with that understanding?
Oleg: It is all thanks to my parents that I became so proactive. They supported me and backed me all the time. And if you support other people with similar problems you get even stronger and find yourself in the world. You should not give up. I always tell children about that when we meet.
Corr: It is even important that disabled people have meetings with healthy people. It is a kind of integration for healthy people too. So they learn that people differ with their eyes, color of skin, and even health conditions.
Oleg: You know, it often happenson the street when children meet someone on a wheelchair and ask their parents about that, and parents simply try to take their child away and do not talk and explain that. I sometimes try to stop and explain that people are different. Still parents take their children away. But the problems are all around.
Corr: You are right, they simply hide from the life and try to hide their children. Sometimes they change the topic or tell some unpleasant words about that.
Oleg: This is the reason I try to meet with children and show that we are alive too and we, the disabled, can do a lot.
Corr: I can even offer you another idea! What if you prepare trainings for people to be held in supermarkets or public transport departments? You are already experienced in sharing the knowledge. There are so many spheres you can be good at, and educate people how to treat others with special needs. We have so many cases, like when a driver of public transport sees a disabled person and understands that he or she can cause him troubles and he simply passes away.
Oleg: Yes, we have such problems in our city and in many other cities as well. It happened to me that drivers were shutting doors when I was already one step in the bus. Or a driver and passengers were shouting at me when I was trying to enter the bus. And it is sad that we have such misunderstanding.
Corr: If getting back to your project on orphanages. You have a web page. It is just an information, about children or it has another purpose?
Oleg: We put their information on needs of children, but also stories about children, so people who support and volunteer can learn more about the project. It is all transparent and clear. Everyone can check the site and even participate in the project.
Corr: How did you get started in sports?
Oleg: All because of my health problems, I had to support my physical condition. So it made me want to achieve the goals.
Corr: Oleg, I wish you success moving forward. And if you fall down, I wish you strength to rise and go on. Share your energy and enthusiasm with people who you know or you don't know. It is very important.
Today we had a guest - Oleg Abornev, the World Champion on Bodybuilding and Fitness. We thank you for joining us.
Oleg: Thank you for inviting me here. I believe we must never give up and must continue our work.
Corr: The program was prepared by Vladislav Aksionov, the Studio Manager, and Volodymyr Noskov, the Host. We meet soon in the studio!