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Launch of ‘Platform of Urban Centres’ initiative in Brazil

© Ratao Diniz/Agência Imagens do Povo
L to R: Secretary of Social Welfare and Human Rights Benedita da Silva, Mayor Eduardo Paes, UNICEF’s Marie-Pierre Poirier, Governor Sérgio Cabral, UNICEF’s Nils Kastberg and Ministry of Social Development’s Arlete Sampaio at the launch in Rio de Janeiro.

SÃO PAULO, Brazil, 20 August 2009 – Some 400 people were present for the launch of the UNICEF-supported ‘Platform of Urban Centres’ initiative last month – aimed at ensuring the rights of children and adolescents on the outskirts of Brazilian cities.
The initiative is aimed at reducing disparities affecting children and their families. By the end of 2011, UNICEF will grant a certificate to local governments that reach at least 12 out of 20 goals for improving poverty-stricken communities.
“We propose a new way of making public policies for urban centres, based on co-responsibility, dialogue and joint complementary action,” said UNICEF Brazil Representative Marie-Pierre Poirier, who was accompanied at the launch by former Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean Nils Kastberg.

“The city must be a good place for all, for every child and adolescent.”

A colourful net

In São Paulo, the launch took place in a festive, community atmosphere. A colourful fabric net marked the start of a cultural fair, which demonstrated the talents and potentials that exist in poverty-stricken communities.

Four young people were in charge of leading the ceremony, thus reflecting the strong emphasis on children in the initiative.

“As a public authority, we want to ratify our commitment by supporting this initiative that, added to other public policies, aims at ensuring education, good health and social inclusion for young people,” said Mayor of São Paulo Gilberto Kassab.

A source of richness

Art, food, and dance performances such as Capoeira, Samba and hip-hop from the 126 communities taking part in the initiative were featured. Coupled with a photography exhibition, this celebration of various local cultures showed that differences should be a source of richness rather than conflict.

The closing of the event harkened back to the opening ceremony as 50 adolescents and guests held up pieces of fabric to form a large net representing the force that binds together different talents and knowledge in order to realize the rights of children.

“One thing brought me here today: the opportunity. It is as if someone is looking after me and saying: ‘No matter if you are black, young and you live in the outskirts, the important thing is that you are here to bring about your time and your turn’,” said one of the hosts, 17 year-old Fabrício Lima da Paz in a testimony displayed in video.

Rio de Janeiro

A second celebration also took place in Rio de Janeiro, where 600 guests gathered at the Palacio Guanabara. Actress and poet Elisa Lucinda led the ceremony, which was also attended by actress and producer Regina Casé. Ms. Casé’s work is focused on life in peripheral communities around the world.

© UNICEF Brazil/2009/Serra
Children and guests at the launch ceremony hold up pieces of fabric to form a large net representing the realization of the rights of children.

Some 300 members of the 63 Local Working Groups of the Platform performed a powerful demonstration of how the initiative is aiding their mobilization potential.

The initiative is “the link between public power and communities to discuss issues involving childhood and adolescence in the city,” said community leader Lúcia Cabral. “That’s what this event represents.”

Also in attendance was UNICEF’s Ambassador in Brazil actor Lázaro Ramos as well as State Governor Sérgio Cabral; Mayor Eduardo Paes; Executive Deputy Secretary of the Ministry of Social Development and Fight against Hunger Arlete Sampaio; and the State Secretary of Social Welfare and Human Rights Benedita da Silva.

“We want the voices of children and adolescents to be heard and spread. We are part of the solution for the problems of the city,” said Felipe, along with another young participant named Vivianne. “The Platform must be the bridge that will make visible what happens in the communities, contributing to put an end to negative stereotypes. We want to show off the good things youths are doing in the communities.”



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