For the right to safe and inclusive sports
In an event held by UNICEF and partners, adolescents delivered a document to government authorities with recommendations for guaranteeing the right to safe and inclusive sports and the social legacy that the World Cup, the Olympics and Paralympics will bring to Brazil
Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, April 12, 2011 – The right of each and every child to play, recreation and sport in a safe and healthy environment is enshrined in Article 31 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and in Brazil, by the Statute of the Child and Adolescent.
UNICEF promoted the “Meeting of Adolescents for the Right to Safe and Inclusive Sports”, held April 6-7 in Rio de Janeiro, to help ensure this right and discuss the social legacy that sports mega-events will leave for Brazil.
A total of 202 adolescents and youth from 11 different states of Brazil where the 2014 World Cup will take place participated in the event.
During the meeting, sport activities and workshops were held based on methodologies which stimulate inclusion and participation of girls and boys with different personal conditions and social and cultural backgrounds.
The massive participation of girls during the event reflects their interest not only in sports activities but also in discussing sports policies for the country.
As a result from guided discussions, participants produced a document reflecting their concerns and recommendations regarding the mega-events’ social legacy and public policies for social inclusion through sports and educational activities.
The document, “Sports are not for some people, but for all!” was delivered to representatives from the federal, state and Rio municipal governments at the closing ceremony.
The document states, “We are concerned that billions will be invested in the sports mega-events. We hope that this money is used not only for the games, but that it can also help improve the living conditions of children and adolescents all over the country”.
Another important outcome of the meeting was the creation of the National Adolescents’ Network for the Right to Safe and Inclusive Sports - whose goal is to guarantee that the voices of adolescents are heard during the preparation for and the holding of these events.
“You deserve the gold medal for exercising your right of letting the authorities know what you want”, said singer Daniela Mercury, UNICEF’s Brazil Ambassador, who attended the closing ceremony.
Sixteen-year old Marco Antonio Vollet Marson is from Ponta Grossa, Paraná state, and plays basketball for the Paraná state and Brazilian national under-17 teams. At the Rio meeting, he began to look at sport from a different perspective. “Many adolescents do not have the right to sports. I want to raise awareness of the people in my state so that everyone can engage in small actions that can help to change this situation.”
“Playing and having access to safe and inclusive sports cannot be a privilege of few, but a fundamental right of each child and adolescent”, said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Representative to Brazil. “The practice of sports is an important tool for children to develop their ability to solve problems. In addition, it can be an ally in the educational process, in actions against violence, racism, discrimination, and to promote social inclusion.”
Sports for all – “It is very important to see so many people mobilizing for these great events that will take place in Brazil. But we have to take advantage of these opportunities to make people understand that integration between teachers and society is needed”, says Ana Moser, Volleyball Olympic medalist and founder of the Sports and Education Institute (IEE).
“The concept of sports and education was meant for the elite. Today, it applies to everybody”, she celebrates.
Still, there are great challenges to guaranteedsafe and inclusive sports for each child and adolescent . A resident of Cidade de Deus (City of God), a low-income neighbourhood in Rio de Janeiro, Landerson Soares, 18, explains that his reality reflects the situation of other cities in the country.
“We have 22 parks in Cidade de Deus. The majority has suffered the ravages of time, of neglect. We lack investment, improvements and conservation,” says Landerson.
He highlights the importance of monitoring the use of public money in sports. “I hope investments are not concentrated in the more prosper areas and in large urban centres, but that they make it to the outskirts of the cities.”
Landerson’s opinion illustrates the frustration that Franciele Zanquetta, 17, felt when she had to stop playing volleyball due to lack of public funds for sports.
“I dreamt about being a volleyball player. When a new administration took over in Novo Hamburgo (Rio Grande do Sul state, in the South of the country), budget cuts affected the club for which I played. I had to stop, but that encouraged me to fight for the right to practice sports. I can be a spokesperson without being an athlete. Being here today means I am a winner”, says the adolescent.
Social and Cultural Exchange – “Involvement, a way to bring people closer.” This is how Diego Gomes, from Heliópolis, São Paulo, 17, defines sports. When he was 10, he started playing volleyball and today he recognizes the importance of it in his life.
“Sports gave me freedom; I got to see different realities, different people. I learned how to communicate, got to know different cultures. I try to learn something new every day”, says Diego.
The meeting of the adolescents in Rio stimulated a great exchange of ideas among the adolescents who come from different cultural contexts.
A good example is Aline Czezacki, 16, a student in Ponta Grossa (Paraná state). She says that she learned a lot from her peers at the meeting and that she will take that knowledge back to her state.
“The participation of people from various states is important because everyone can communicate, interact, and exchange ideas. In the future, we will be able to evaluate what has improved and what still needs to be done,” says Manuel Sebastian, 17, who represented the Amazon state.
The event was organized in partnership with the Ministry of Sports, the National Human Rights Secretariat, SESC Rio, NGO CEDAPS (Centre for Health Promotion), NGO IEE and IIDAC (International Institute for the Advancement of Citizenship Rights).
For more information:
Alexandre Amorim, mailto:email@example.com, UNICEF Brazil
Tamar Hahn, firstname.lastname@example.org, UNICEF Latin America and the Caribbean