Who we are

Natalia Vodianova started her journey in philanthropy by setting up Naked Heart Foundation Inc in New York in 2004. After relocating to London, Natalia decided to expand her charitable initiatives and established Naked Heart Foundation UK to help children with special needs and continue the humanitarian mission she had started 3 years earlier.

in this section:
About usAbout us
our story our story
Our teamOur team
Our supportersOur supporters
Documents and reports Documents and reports
in this section:
About usAbout us
our story our story
Our teamOur team
Our supportersOur supporters
Documents and reports Documents and reports

About us

Our purpose is to help children and young people with special educational needs, mental and physical disabilities, and their families by offering sustained parent/carer training programmes, knowledge exchange programmes and individual specialist support in a one-to-one capacity. Naked Heart advocates for systemic societal change for greater support and inclusion for people with special needs, and creates professional support facilities, as well as inclusive play parks that bring together children of all developmental abilities to socialise together from the earliest age.

Our mission is to help build an inclusive society that is open to people with disabilities and special needs, through encouraging play and creation of free support services for affected families.

Our work to support children with special needs aims to solve one huge problem – the abandonment of such children and their placement in closed state institutions, either at birth or in early infancy, owing to the lack of support from the government or NGOs. That is why we focus on developing a network of free family support centres and fund dozens of NGOs working on the same mission in former Soviet countries such as Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and others. Most of these countries don’t have as much provision for or acceptance of people with special needs, partly due to the fact that the Soviet Union wanted to present itself as a nation of healthy individuals, and those with disabilities were hidden away behind closed doors and high fences.

Naked Heart Foundation aims to reverse this horrible legacy and make sure every child with special needs has a loving family and professional support they need to flourish. We aim to ensure that no child with living parents ends up in an orphanage or a children’s home. We are working to tackle the stigma of disability, so that no parent feels pressured to give up a disabled child. And we’re working with families who have made the challenging decision to keep their disabled child at home, in order to give them free access to a full range of services and the support of specialists who are familiar with best practices and evidence-based support methods.

Our story


In December 2004 Natalia Vodianova hosts her first charity event in New York to benefit the newly established Naked Heart Foundation Inc. Supported by Diane von Furstenberg, Calvin Klein, Helena Christensen, Eva Mendez, Zac Posen, Ashley Olsen and many other friends, she raises money to launch her charity’s programmes and make her homeland a better place for children. Natalia strongly believed that play is not a luxury but a necessity, and that every child should be provided with a secure and stimulating environment in which to play.

The first programme Naked Heart Foundation USA introduced was designed to give children access to colourful and stimulating outdoor playgrounds. Having grown up with a sister with cerebral palsy, with nowhere safe to take her for daily walks, Natalia had quickly realised that kids all over the world could benefit from her idea of inclusive play; she was determined to provide facilities that would cater for children of all abilities, ages and backgrounds. The first park was opened in Natalia's hometown of Nizhny Novgorod in 2006.

After relocating to London in 2007, Natalia expanded her charitable initiatives and established Naked Heart Foundation UK to help children with special needs in former Soviet states and continue the charitable work she had started 3 years earlier. By 2010 Natalia and her team had already built 40 playgrounds in Russia and same year the first fundraiser was held in London - the charity's signature Love Ball. Hosted by Naked Heart Foundation UK trustee Lucy Yeomans, the event raised £1,2 milion for the building of more playgrounds, including 3 in Britain. 

Initially building inclusive children’s playgrounds, the Foundation later expanded its scope of activities to include support services for families raising children and young adults with conditions such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down’s syndrome, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities and other special needs. In 2011 "Every child deserves a family" programme was launched with the first Family Support Centre in Nizhny Novgorod at its heart.

To ensure families raising children with special needs have the most modern and effective support programmes, we carry out an extensive educational scheme for childcare specialists, giving them access to the latest evidence-based methods of supporting people with disabilities. In 2012 annual international “Every child deserves a family” forum was launched in Moscow, which gives hundreds of parents and specialists from former Soviet states a platform to discuss their work and experience helping children with mental, physical and sensory disabilities.

In 2013 Naked Heart Foundation UK and its related parties launched a unique training project for teachers and other specialists who work with children with autism. The project proved hugely successful and provided access to education for hundreds of children who had previously been considered ‘unteachable’ and not accepted even to special schools. Since then the charity has become a pioneer in the field of inclusive education in Russia, and now drives evidence-based technologies and practices amongst teachers community across the country and its neighbour states.

In 2016 Early Intervention project was introduced for young children with special needs and their carers. It enables children with autism, cerebral palsy and other developmental disabilities to attend nurseries and learn essential life skills including communication and basic education, and later gain access to state schools alongside their typically developing peers. It also helps parents and carers to better understand how to help the development needs of their children. Currently available in 26 centres across five cities with two main hubs in Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod.

The Foundation's goal has always been to ensure all children with special needs in Russia and beyond can get access to the essential support they need, and in order to make the charity's programmes available to a greater amount of families, a special digital resource was launched in 2019, a great milestone for the Foundation! Naked Heart Online: An online platform for professionals and parents raising children with disabilities, which makes international evidence-based practices available to the Russian-speaking audience totally free of charge, like all other charity's programmes.

In December 2021 Natalia Vodianova and her team celebrated 17 years of charity work, having helped more than 16,000 children and young adults with special needs and their families, as well as creating over 210 inclusive play facilities in more than 150 towns, including 3 play parks in the UK. Naked Heart Foundation is the most prominent organisation supporting and advocating on behalf of people with mental, physical and sensory disabilities across post-Soviet environment.

Our team

Our expertise

Autism Speaks

University of New Mexico

National Autistic Society

University of California

Kennedy Krieger Institute

Center for Development and Disability

Mind Research Network

University of Glasgow



Emory University

World Health Organisation

KasariLab / JASPER

Center For Discovery

Beaming Health

Mellow Parenting


Marcus Autism Center

Utah State University

University of Cape Town

Our supporters

Naked Heart Foundation is hugely grateful to the following individuals and organisations for their generous support:

Documents and reports

Registration Documents

Annual & Financial Reports


Naked Heart Foundation:

Registered Charity: 1122345
Company Registration: 06293334
VAT number: 121271658


59-60 Russell Square

London, WC1B 4HP

United Kingdom

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The Naked Heart Foundation is a registered charity in England and Wales (1122345). It is also company limited by guarantee, registered at Companies House (6293334).

59-60 Russell Square, London, WC1B 4HP, UK
Copyright © 2022 Naked Heart Foundation

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