Gudrun Messias
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Teaching values and life skills to kids through sport: the Ginga Social project in Brazil

Teaching values and life skills to kids through sport: the Ginga Social project in Brazil

A couple of years ago, adidas Brazil started to look into more profound, long-term and social ways of engagement in a country with a high index of social inequality. Knowing that in Brazil there are many grass roots organizations doing great social work, the adidas Brazil team decided to focus on promoting sports as a tool for social change with the support of those existing organizations. For this, we obviously needed a strong partner with the relevant on-the-ground knowledge and credibility to manage the training and projects. We finally identified this partner in Fundação Gol de Letra, an organization recognized by UNESCO as a model institution. Gol de Letra works predominantly in the cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and provides educational and sports programs to children and youth.

Offering a place to go and do sports after school

Together with Gol de Letra, adidas created Ginga Social, a sport-based after-school program implemented in in 5 Brazilian cities and attended by a total of 1,800 children as well as their families, therefore benefiting roughly 7,200 individuals. In each city (Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, São Paulo, Salvador and Porto Alegre), Gol de Letra partners with a local organization to offer various team and individual sports, always based on the local demand. Futsal, volleyball, athletics, basketball, judo, jiu-jitsu, dance and capoeira are the most common ones. The local project team is trained and monitored by Gol de Letra directly.

Personally, it has been a great experience to see this project coming to life, especially because cooperation between corporations and NGOs is oftentimes considered as a challenge.

Ginga Social kids warming up for their afternoon sports session

In Brazil, 85% of Brazilians live in urban areas and space for sports and leisure is scarce and expensive. Knowledge and practice of other sports beside football is very limited. With these premises, we knew that sports could make a difference, as it is a powerful tool to teach life skills and values, while contributing to social change.

Being responsible for Social Responsibility at adidas Brazil, I have been involved in this project from the very beginning. Crucial for the success of this partnership was that Gol de Letra’s vision of disseminating their know-how perfectly matched adidas’ focus on capacity building. In July 2011 we kicked off the program.

kids enjoy the sport-based and active approach of the program

adidas is more than just a sponsor for Ginga Social

We get involved in the selection of the beneficiary organizations and connect locally with them through employee volunteering. Also, we involve Ginga Social local partners in brand related activities if appropriate; as an example, some Ginga Social young kids became Flagbearer during the Fifa Confederations Cup. This once-in-a-lifetime experience was a huge incentive for the kids who were chosen based on their contribution to the group and their all-in attitude.

A first-hand example from Belo Horizonte

In the city of Belo Horizonte Ginga Social partners with Associação ABAFE. Located in a peripheral area of Belo Horizonte, ABAFE was founded by local residents in 1987 as a community organization. In the first years, efforts went into conquering land titles and public services. Over 4500 families live in the neighbourhood, most adults earn less than a minimum wage and many have not concluded school. Today, ABAFE is running after-school programs for children as well as work-place preparation classes for youths. Local demand for sports had been increasing over the last years, but the organization’s space was not appropriate and neither did they have a team prepared to offer a sports program. This is where Ginga Social fit in perfectly! With the Ginga Social funding, additional sports coaches could be hired and were then trained by Gol de Letra in how to use sports to make an ongoing positive difference to the lives of vulnerable young people. Also, the sports ground was refurbished and inaugurated in February 2013 – a big day not only for the over 300 kids who attend the programs, but also for their families and the rest of the community who can use the space in their leisure time.

Eduardo Leles Maciel, Ginga Social project coordinator in Belo Horizonte, relates a success story:

They can try out different sports, like volleyball in this case

“Leonardo (17) came to join the futsal group with some friends in the very beginning of the program. As he already passed the target age group (7-16 yrs), we told him that he could only participate temporarily until the groups were filled. Nevertheless, he continued coming to the trainings, mostly hanging around, annoying and making fun of the smaller kids, and using inappropriate language. Through a series of conversations we persuaded him to apply for the position of sports monitor, which he at first didn’t qualify for because he was not attending school, prerequisite for being a monitor. But Leonardo decided to go back to school and was accepted as a monitor. Today, he distinguishes himself through his positive attitude towards children and colleagues.”

Let’s hope that we can read more of those success stories soon!

To find out more…

… follow the Ginga Social’s activities on their newly created Facebook page!

… about the adidas Group’s community involvement programs, check out our website!

 

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