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Tamara Naumova, volunteer, ceramics teacher

What I love most of all is how boisterous and loud the children come into the studio because you can see, even at just a glance, that they have come home. They take comfort in knowing that we are waiting for them, that we are happy to see them, and that we have fascinating activities for them. After creative classes everyone sits around the large table to have family tea, dinner, a group discussion, and often a party since we try to celebrate every birthday together. I have so many studious children. They make marvelously expressive animals from clay. Their choice often coincides with some little sculptor's touches of nature. It's very interesting. For the twelve years that I have been working at the studio, there have been both lovers and creators of rhinos, pigs, elephants, mice, bears, and other inspirational creatures.

Among the children some are very talented, for example the brother and sister Roman and Lena Larins, Dasha Grigoryeva, Sasha Fetisov, Sergey Naydyonov, Andrey Savelyev and so many others.

Usually their finished projects stay at our studio. This is our art collection. The children know that in the exhibitions people will be joyful and surprised by the variety and mastery of the young creators.

But among the celebrations and activities, there is also great sadness. It's very difficult and sad when the children have to leave. Not the weekly goodbye when they know they're coming back the next week, but leaving because of their ages. After the children turn 18 years old, the ones who are mentally disabled are forced to live in apartments for the disabled, which are more like prisons than apartments. If it was just a change of address, the children would continue to study, play, and learn with us. But the residents of these special needs adult apartments are kept like prisoners and not allowed to leave the building for something as trivial as coming to the studio to visit. We then lose them and have only the animals, houses, and pictures to remind us of their blossoming creativity and the short wonderful time were together.

Vitya Koval, orhanage # 7

I like to make animals, houses. Today I wanted to make a mouse, but I got a hedgehog. I thought it was fur but it is looking like prickles