Who is a creative person? Art-educated? Subtly and sharply feeling the world? Able to create unique, dream and achieve goals? Or maybe both, and the other, and the third, as pupils, employees and guests of the Children’s Republic “Polenovo”?

The picturesque bank of the Oka River, Tula region, Zaoksky district. Since 1954, the camp “Children’s Republic “Polenovo” has been located here – a world created by adults, but controlled by children. Not far from here is the museum-estate of the outstanding Russian landscape painter Vasily Dmitrievich Polenov, the atmosphere, as they say, is conducive to creativity.

December is a month that hardly suggests children’s vacation in the camp, but the impossible is possible in Polenovo. In addition to journalists from Tula, Moscow and the regions, guys from Rosmolodezh spend their weekends here. It is not surprising that from the first day they “create and get up.”

The press tour begins with the story of the head of the socio-cultural space “Children’s Republic “Polenovo” Nikolai Zimin. In the camp, the continuity of generations is clearly observed: the guys who grew up here send their children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren here. The republic accepts both children-heroes and children with disabilities, both the offspring of famous people and ordinary citizens. It is extremely difficult to get into the camp, for example, the registration for the summer of 2023 has already been completed, all places are booked. Here they are heading for life without gadgets, live communication is a priority. Squad “A” is responsible for media content, they have already released more than 500 videos. Among the best works are “For (You) go to play”, “Warriors of Light”, “A little bit about DRP”. The republic’s own merch helps to create a positive image of the camp among the guests. And in these wonderful sweatshirts and socks, bomber jackets and warm pants, it’s cozy like at home!

The camp teaches empathy and develops emotional intelligence. Communicating with peers with special needs, normotypical children develop empathy. For example, insulin-dependent diabetic children are taught to play with a ball, and children with severe diseases of the musculoskeletal system are helped to serve themselves in the camp canteen. Adults do not lag behind young people: they carry out social projects in cooperation with the I Am charity foundation, created in 2012 by Yegor Beroev and Ksenia Alferova. Among them are “Amazing Parents” and “Talent Development”.

The best of the best in sports, dancing, singing, acting win the DRP Like award every year. The next prestigious award will be presented on February 18, 2023. Another direction of creativity is media intensives, but only for the “chosen ones”. This year, the participants are the best students of the Look media school under the auspices of the Ministry of Youth Policy of the Tula Region. The focus is on the use of cinematography in stories. The guys shoot and then edit the video, overlaying music, correcting color, cutting off unnecessary fragments. As a result, thanks to the wonders of the PremierPro program and the creativity of young people, a full-fledged stylization of the pioneer cinema of the times of our grandparents is obtained.

From those to whom a lot of talent is measured, there is more demand. Artist, actor, athlete and motivational coach Alexander Pokhilko. Born without hands and feet, our hero gives motivational lectures and helps people recover from injuries, paints in different genres and has sports categories in swimming, rowing and shooting, and travels a lot. Alexander overcame the running stage of the Ironstar triathlon in Sochi in 2016 (5 km) and in 2017 (10 km) on cheetah prostheses, took 3rd place in the sea all-around at the Russian Championship. He is convinced that everything – both good and bad – is laid in the child at the stage of formation by the family, and is very grateful for the upbringing of his adoptive mother, Svetlana Alexandrovna Pokhilko. Despite the difficult nature, this strong and strong-willed woman constantly convinced little Sasha: he is no different from healthy children, it’s just that it will take much more effort to solve some problems. She was the first to notice Alexander’s inclinations and talents and directed him along the artistic path. “The child should not be scolded, but occupied. In order to understand the makings of the baby, you need to closely observe him. Habits have the properties of motivation,” says Pokhilko. He is convinced that others love you the way you love yourself, but along with love, it is necessary to develop tough self-discipline. And you need to be kinder to the world around you, if you want to do something nice for a loved one, why not give a piece of warmth to everyone who met on the path of life? And dedication is Alexander’s credo. In support of the “Artist” and “Life in Motion” foundations, within the framework of the “I want to walk” project, he conquered Kilimanjaro three times. With the proceeds, dozens of children underwent prosthetics in the United States, similar to those that Alexander himself once experienced. And our hero also plays in the theater and dances, starred in the film “Rzhev”, is engaged in cooking and woodcarving, can screw, pin and assemble furniture, studies the history of the Ancient World and Russia, and conducts chocolate master classes. “Now I understand that disability for me is a gift from God, it is a motivation to be better and stronger. We all have the opportunity to become the best version of ourselves and develop natural talents,” Pokhilko is sure.

An excursion to the museum-estate of Vasily Dmitrievich Polenov opened the events of the second day. It is nice to see that the atmosphere of antiquity has been preserved here – from furniture to paintings, samples of decorative and applied art. Vasily Dmitrievich’s talent is also the result of family influence. His father Dmitry Vasilyevich was a famous historian and archaeologist, and his mother Maria Alexandrovna was a children’s writer and artist, and his sister Elena Dmitrievna was an illustrator of children’s books. The estate houses the works of the Polenov family, students of Vasily Dmitrievich, souvenirs from trips abroad. From the windows of each room there are magnificent views of the Oka. No wonder where Vasily Dmitrievich drew inspiration for his landscapes: life throws up the best stories!

The high standard set by the great painters of the past left a mark on the soul of every Polenovite. Yana Gavrilkevich, a member of the Moscow Union of Artists, head of the plein airs of the Moscow Central Art School at the Russian Academy of Arts, led a mini-tour of the exhibition of works by students of the 1940s. The well-known Soviet artist Eric Bulatov expressed gratitude to the children’s republic in video format. It was here, in Polenov, that Eric Vladimirovich felt like a painter, felt that he had a painting in his hands, thanks to … food! “In the post-war years, it was considered a good indicator when children gained weight over the summer in the camp. The guys were divided into fed, who did not want to eat, and hungry, who were never enough. I treated the latter. Even a double portion while on duty in the kitchen did not help! Parents used to visit us from time to time. And then one day my mother brought a jar of jam and a loaf of bread. I ate a double portion of dinner, and then more of her goodies, and then for the first time in my life I felt that I was full, I had the strength to create, ”the artist laughs from the screen.

Cuisine in the Polenovo Children’s Republic is a separate art form. Despite the fashionable buffet nowadays, traditional food rules are followed here: breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner. Proteins, fats, carbohydrates and daily calorie intake are meticulously calculated. But the most important thing, and the guests of the DRP were convinced of this from their own experience: here it is also useful and very tasty!

Just before leaving, we communicate with the mother of a special child, Irina Alexandrovna Netesova, a participant in the Amazing Parents project of the I Am Foundation. “Employees of the foundation and the Polenovo Children’s Republic help the child with adaptation. Here, normotypical and special children communicate without any hesitation. Collective events, such as classes in a theater studio, are very liberating,” says Irina.

Parents, in turn, are given the opportunity to relax, raising children with disabilities and disabilities is not an easy job. “More guys in a regular school, and my daughter studies there, they are very angry. Teachers sometimes say: “The program does not pull.” But among those who do not fulfill the same program, the majority of typical children! Until I turned on the advice of a friend, also a mother of a special child, to the I Am Foundation, no one actually helped us. And now I have friends, every year we go here, to Polenovo, and we will celebrate the New Year 2023 here. The main thing is to never give up, ”Irina assures.

The daughter of our heroine is a creative person: she is finishing the ninth grade, is engaged in drawing, cooking, theater, wants to devote herself to art. No wonder, because her mother is a real artist! Do not understand? Let me explain. An artist is one who sees life in bright colors and is able to notice the beauty in the ordinary. So, little by little, each of us.

Alena YURCHENKO, Tula region