Nastya Popandopulo

2024 IVLP Impact Award Project: From Trauma to Triumph: Harnessing the Power of Horses & Healing for War-Affected ChildrenUkraine

Nastya Popandopulo is the Executive Director of Victory Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to the psycho-emotional recovery of veterans and children impacted by war, employing hippotherapy and animal therapy. With a profound commitment to serving those affected by war, Nastya plays a pivotal role in orchestrating programs aimed at restoring well-being and resilience in communities. In addition to her role at Victory Center, Nastya is a co-founder of PR Army, an initiative that offers global media an accurate portrayal of the ongoing war by amplifying the voices of Ukrainian experts, authorities, and witnesses.  

Her background in journalism and public relations, acquired during her studies at university, laid the foundation for her versatile and impactful career in communications. She honed her skills as a public relations specialist in the technology sector. Driven by a passion for advocating for the voices of the marginalized and those affected by war, Nastya continues to foster healing, understanding, and positive change in her community and beyond. 

IVLP Impact Award Project: From Trauma to Triumph: Harnessing the Power of Horses & Healing for War-Affected Children

The project promotes emotional healing, resilience, and psychological well-being for Ukraine's war-affected children. Over a three-month period, Nastya’s project will use a blend of horse-assisted therapy techniques to bring holistic healing experiences to approximately 24 children ages 6 to 12. 

With horse-assisted therapy sessions, participants will learn to foster emotional regulation and self-awareness. Therapeutic writing, musical and artistic activities in nature will promote feelings of safety and trust by fostering a sense of connection with nature and animals. Nadya hopes her project will provide a supportive and nurturing environment where children can express themselves freely, build positive relationships with peers and facilitators, and restore empathy and trust in others.  

Witnessing firsthand the transformative power of interactions between humans and horses, I was driven to create a program that would provide similar therapeutic benefits to individuals in my community.” – Nastya Popandopulo 

IVLP Exchange Experience   

Nastya participated in the IVLP Project: Social Entrepreneurs in the United States organized by the U.S. Department of State and Cultural Vistas, in partnership with Colorado Springs World Affairs Council, WorldOrlando, World Affairs Council of New Hampshire, and Global Minnesota. 

Nastya’s exchange experience led to the development of her project: “IVLP has equipped me with a wealth of knowledge and skills that directly contributed to the creation and implementation of Victory Center. Through engaging workshops, insightful discussions, and interactions with both fellow participants and leaders, IVLP instilled in me the confidence and mindset required to undertake ambitious initiatives such as Victory Center.” 

U.S. Communities Visited   

Colorado Springs, CO; Washington DC; Orlando, FL; Manchester, NH; Minneapolis, MN 

“My IVLP experience served as the catalyst for my IVLP Impact Award project, igniting a passion to bring equine-assisted therapy to my home country of Ukraine.” – Nastya Popandopulo 

Country: Ukraine 

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