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Ola, Boris and Their New Friends – a unique story that will help children from Ukraine adapt to their new reality

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Ola, Boris and Their New Friends – a unique story that will help children from Ukraine adapt to their new reality

Ola and Boris are siblings who, along with their mother, fled the war in Ukraine. Now they are facing formidable challenges: learning a new language with a different alphabet and getting to know new places and people. Ola and Boris are the characters in a therapeutic children’s book created by the staff and students of our Faculty of Psychology in Wrocław. This unique publication is intended for Ukrainian children who, in recent weeks, were forced to leave their homes with their families and settle in other countries. The book is awaiting its print publication, but you can already download it in a digital format. We have included the links to the four different language versions below.

Giving children some comfort in difficult times

Ola, Boris and Their New Friends is a book for children aged 4 to 7. Little readers from Ukraine can relate to the characters in the story, Ola and her brother Boris, who have just arrived in Poland and are trying to cope with their new reality. Reading about their dilemmas helps children confront their own difficult circumstances. Just like Ola and Boris, Ukrainian children would like to learn, have fun and make new friends, but at the same time, they feel overwhelmed, intimidated, and scared.

Children often have difficulty managing intense emotions on their own. A book can help them work through these emotions, understand them or simply show that someone else feels the same way. Therefore, reception points for Ukrainian refugees, private persons hosting families in need, and schools accepting youngest Ukrainian students have been looking for a story like this to share with those in their care.

Even though the book Ola, Boris and Their New Friends is available only in a digital format for now, it has already received positive feedback from its young audience. Ukrainian parents, who downloaded the story and read it to their children, shared their thoughts on social media. They thanked the authors and described how Ola and Boris guide their children through their new environment.

Illustration from the story Ola, Boris and their new friends
Therapeutic story for children from Ukraine illustrated by Paula Metcalf

A story that comes from the heart

The book about Ola and Boris was created virtually overnight and is an outcome of international efforts. The idea was born on February 27, and two days later, an entire editorial team was already working at a very high speed. All this has been made possible through the collaboration between SWPS University's Faculty of Psychology in Wrocław, the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research into Health and Illness at the University of Wrocław, and independent experts.

Illustration from the story Ola, Boris and their new friends
Therapeutic story for children from Ukraine illustrated by Paula Metcalf

The person behind the idea is Associate Professor Justyna Ziółkowska, a specialist in qualitative research in clinical psychology, and the supervisor of the Clinical Psychology Research Club in Wrocław. She assembled and coordinated the editorial team with Prof. Dariusz Galasiński from the University of Wrocław. Associate Professor Tomasz Grzyb, Dean of SWPS University's Faculty of Psychology in Wrocław, was also involved.

The Ola, Boris and Their New Friends was co-authored by Associate Professor Justyna Ziółkowska, and psychology students: Aleksandra Cieloch, Marta Emirsajłow, Oliwia Malińska, Michalina Mazurek, Jakub Michalik, Julia Odelga, Małgorzata Skrońska, Gabriela Sorsa, Anna Stachowiak, Anna Szołomycka and Paulina Woźny. The book was illustrated by a talented illustrator Paula Metcalf and designed by Rebecca Scambler.

The team worked hard in the evenings to ensure that Ukrainian families crossing the Polish border could share the story of Ola and Boris with their children as soon as possible.

The book is available as an animated short film on YouTube.

 

The scale of the response surprised us. Many Ukrainian parents posted on social media about how their children enjoyed listening to the story. It is their feedback that is most important to us. We also receive messages from psychologists and psychotherapists, for example, from Lithuania, who would like to have access to this publication. The story has the potential to help Ukrainian children fleeing the war not only to Poland but also to other countries.

Justyna Ziółkowska, Ph.D. / Associate Professor
team leader

Download the therapeutic book Ola, Boris and Their New Friends:

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