One of the unresolved problems that Ukraine inherited from the USSR is
the problem of the handicapped. Soviet society always hid it in the dark
corner of issues closed for discussion.
The disabled mostly felt detached from life which was cynically called
"normal" by healthy people. At present, Ukraine is still unable to actively
assist the physical rehabilitation and social adaptation of invalids. However,
the handicapped themselves are getting increasingly active in resolving
pressing problems by creating associations, public organizations, and funds.
One of them is a private charitable fund for information support of the
handicapped (IP Fund), which, among other numerous activities, also organizes
Europe's only Miss Wheelchair Ukraine competition.
Last Thursday, the IP Fund staged another contest for the Wheelchair
Knight of Ukraine in the Hollywood Club. The competition was held in three
rounds. A total of 28 young men from all oblasts of Ukraine took part in
the first round of questionnaires and photos. The second round started
on November 8, when nine finalists arrived in Kyiv for a week of training
and rehabilitation at the Zhovten sanitarium's Mini-Center for People with
Back Disorders, which is in Koncha Zaspa near Kyiv. After questioning,
five finalists were selected for the third round and became participants
in an captivating show. With their spirit, commitment, will power, and
attractiveness, Ukrainian young men in wheelchairs taught the audience
a true lesson in real courage. The jury, which was composed not only of
Ukrainians, but also of Russians and Australians, awarded each contestant
a special title. The winner was Oleksandr Zherdiov from Dnipropetrovsk.
The event was summed up by IP-Fund President, invalid Mykola Podrezan,
"If we are treated in a civilized way, physical disability is our own problem.
Handicap of the spirit is a much more serious threat to society. And, as
you can see, our participants do not suffer from it, just as thousands
of other handicapped in Ukraine. We want to study, work, and build a new
life and a new country."