Cinderella as role model for children

Russia’s real-life Cinderella – supermodel Natalia Vodianova – has been praised for her charming looks and smile, but it is her support for children that has won the hearts of millions.

­As founder of the Naked Heart charity foundation, philanthropist Vodianova has opened a family support center under its auspices – the Nizhny Novgorod Center for Curative Education and Social Adaptation for children with mental and developmental disorders, “Veras.”

“The opening of Veras is not only an important, but also a personal moment for me,” Vodianova was quoted as saying.

“Should there have been a similar center in Nizhny Novgorod some 22 years ago, my sister’s fate might have been different,” the beauty, who grew up in a single-parent family with a disabled younger sister, Oksana, explained.

(Photo by Alexey Lifanov from

­Since 2006, her Naked Heart charity has been constructing thousands of playgrounds for children across Russia with the first play park created in Natalia’s hometown of Nizhny Novgorod, located five minutes from where she herself once grew up.

Vodianova, who arrived at the opening of the center with her own three children, says she has been fostering a sense of responsibility and compassion in them since childhood.

“Veras is first and foremost [created to] support families raising special children, and this is a tough and, at times, an impossible task for some,” said Vodianova. “Together, in the future, we are hoping to create a perfect support center with professional medical care to serve as an example for other regions. It is sometimes dangerous to talk about philanthropy in Russia, where government support for children in need leaves much to be desired. But we are on the right path, with new people joining our army of those who do care,” she added.

In the newly-opened center children, young people with disabilities and their parents will be provided with psychological, educational and rehabilitative services free of charge.

Facilities will be provided for some 45 children who need special conditions to study. Day care and pre-professional training groups will also be created.

Over 240 families from the Nizhny Novgorod region will be able to turn to the center for professional help and advice, according to the key principle, “Every Child Deserves to have a Family.”

Leave a comment