At a glance: Costa Rica

UNICEF and 'Fútbol por la Vida' partner to raise awareness about child rights in Costa Rica

UNICEF Image: Costa Rica, Sport
© UNICEF Costa Rica/2008
Physical education specialists will tour 10 communities of Costa Rica in a bus filled with recreation equipment, encouraging children to participate in sport-related activities.

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica, 10 July 2008 – More than 300 children from various indigenous and socially excluded communities participated in the inauguration of the UNICEF-supported project ‘Learn About Your Rights, Playing’ at Peace Park in Costa Rica last month.

UNICEF is working with a local non-governmental organization, Fútbol por la Vida (Football for Life), on the project, which aims to raise awareness about child rights and promote physical activities. It will teach children and their families about the importance of activity in social, emotional and physical development.

“We live in a country where we should be able to freely express ourselves. I want to express myself through playing sport,” said Deysha Guzmán, 16, who participated in the event.

Physical education specialists supported by UNICEF and Fútbol por la Vida will tour 10 communities of Costa Rica in a bus filled with recreation equipment, encouraging children to participate in sport-related activities. Each of these communities faces a number of social problems, such as poverty or high rates of violence against children.

Promoting health and well-being

One of the activities involves a foot-powered recreational device called ‘pedals’, designed to teach teamwork and patience. The six-wheeled balancing toy helps to improve motor skills and coordination in children.

UNICEF Image: Costa Rica, Sport, Pedals
© UNICEF Costa Rica/2008
A six-wheeled recreational device called ‘pedals’ is designed to teach teamwork and improve motor skills and coordination in children.

Studies have shown that sport, art and physical activities promote children’s health and mental well-being, and encourage positive social interactions. They also promote gender and social equality, increase self esteem, improve learning skills and academic progress, reduce stress and depression, prevent smoking and drug use, and decrease social vulnerability in high-risk groups.

“I learned a lot through sport, especially football. The coaches taught us about protecting ourselves from drugs and violence and how to face our problems through talking. Football also teaches me to work in a team,” said Heylin Gonzalez, 17.

Taking the project on the road

“Sport can change a person’s future, as well as that of a nation,” said UNICEF Representative in Costa Rica Seija Toro. “With this initiative, Costa Rica continues to show that sport, art and recreation are effective means of promoting child rights and preventing violence.”

The inauguration included non-competitive games and street football as well as theatre, dance and clown shows, among other activities for children.

“We will take this project on the road to communities outside of San José in order to provide the same opportunities for children from socially unstable areas and to improve local and community capacity to defend and promote child rights and their participation,” said the Director of Fútbol por la Vida, Roy Arias.


 

 

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