Accrington mum keeps her Russian heritage alive

Blackburn Citizen: Playgroup leader Nastasya Smirnova with some of the youngsters in her class. Playgroup leader Nastasya Smirnova with some of the youngsters in her class.

A PLAYGROUP is helping to keep Russian culture alive in the heart of Accrington.

Russian Musical Playgroup leader Nastasya Smirnova is head of a tiny ‘Little Russia’ community after she was unable to find Russian speaking groups for her own children.

The 36-year-old, who moved to the UK from her homeland ten years ago, was keen for her three children to maintain their link with their roots.

However, Nastasya, who hopes to train as a teaching assistant, was unable to find a group for her children Nina, eight, Mathew, seven, and Lauren, three.

The voluntary teaching assistant at St John with St Augustine School said she was also keen to share the Russian love of music with other Russian youngsters.

Now she runs two free playgroups from her Avenue Parade home for different age groups.

She said: “Russian children start school later on and the emphasis is on small playgroups, and on learning to sing, dance and play instruments. I just felt it would be a shame for my children to miss that experience.

“I started the playgroups to keep alive our culture, music and language. All the lessons and songs are in Russian. Some children can’t remember their mother tongue, but I can help them.”

After teaching similar classes while working at a Russian school in Salford, Nastasya launched classes here. She said: “It’s not a business. I do it voluntarily. I don’t charge a fee for my classes. My aim is to give my own children musical direction.”

Nastasya runs two separate classes for a dozen children in total. One group is for pre-school children over the age of three, and the second is for school age children.

Those who attend are encouraged to speak Russian, and explore singing, dancing, and musical instruments, while also learning about rhythmic and musical grammar.

Classes are held most Saturdays. Call 07891545091 for more details.

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