Chernobyl's Children Find a Lifeline on Teesside

CHILDREN affected by the Chernobyl disaster are widening their horizons on Teesside.

About 22 children from Belarus, one of the areas most affected by the nuclear power accident in the former USSR in 1986, are staying in Tees Valley and were yesterday spent the day at the Arc theatre in Stockton.

There, they were taught drumming skills by local musician Mike McGrother, a member of the band The Wildcats of Kilkenny.

The children are spending a month on Teesside to help them recuperate from the nuclear fall-out, which almost 20 years on, still contaminates their food chain.

The fallout has also resulted in a proliferation of childhood cancers, many of which are genetically-related.

However, it is estimated that a month in the UK eating uncontaminated food and breathing fresh air boosts their immune system for up to two years.

Chernobyl Children Life Line (CCLL) North-East has brought children to the region for a number of years, but this is the first time the Arc has been involved.

Spokeswoman Stephanie Schneider said: "It went really very well.

"We had a drumming session, followed by some face painting and juggling, and in the afternoon we watched a movie. For some children, it will have been the first time they had been in a cinema.

"They are also going to be involved in the parade for the Stockton International Riverside Festival on Saturday, so I think they are having a great time."