January 30, 2024

Gym Teacher's Charity a Slam Dunk


Gym Teacher's Charity a Slam Dunk
Great spot for a game of dodgeball. The Russian Life files

A boundless love of sports and the sting of childhood poverty motivated Khabarovsk gym teacher Ilya Chikvintsev to found the charity Iriska. Iriska (a play on his mother's name, Irina, and the word for "toffee") will supply local children with sports equipment that their families are not able to provide.

The idea stemmed from a difficult time in Chikvintsev's childhood: economically-devastated 1990s Russia. Despite young Ilya's love for soccer, his family could not afford to buy him adequate sneakers. Today, Chikvintsev wants to ensure no other children are deprived of the joy of sports. 

Growing up with a single mother in the small town of Nikolaevsk-on-Amur, a former gold-mining hub that has since fallen into disrepair, Ilya found solace in his extracurriculars. Fortunately, several years after his hopes to play on his school's soccer team were dashed, Chikvintsev was able to join his school's basketball team. A scholarship to a university in Khabarovsk and a fulfilling career as a gym teacher later, Chikvintsev now wants to give back to students in similarly tough situations. 

Chikvintsev (along with his wife Maria) has secured sufficient local sponsors to provide over 40 children with their dream sports gear, ensuring their ability to play regardless of their ability to pay.

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