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Children learn about their rights, playing

© UNICEF/Costa Rica/2008
These toys help to strengthen children’s balance and coordination and ability to work together as a team.

      - Inauguration of the first recreational festival with specialized games for balance and coordinatio

      - Children from socially excluded communities will participate in educational tour


San José, Costa Rica- 2 July, 2008 - More than 300 children from different socially excluded communities, participated in the inauguration of the project, “Learn about your rights, playing,” in the Peace Park on Saturday June 28.


The activity serves as the inauguration of a joint project between the NGO Fútbol por la Vida (Football for Life) and UNICEF, called “Learn about your rights, playing”. The project seeks to raise awareness about child rights, while children enjoy their right to play, and promotes artistic activities and integrated child development as a way to prevent violence.


In order to bring sporting, artistic and recreational activities to the children and communities that will benefit from this project, UNICEF and Football for Life, will tour 10 communities in a small bus with sports equipment and physical education specialists. Among the recreational toys are “pedals,” special toys that help to improve motor skills, coordination and balance in children, and are designed to teach values such as teamwork and patience.


The project “Learn about your rights, playing,” will travel to three indigenous communities, two port towns, two rural communities and three marginal urban neighborhoods. Each of these communities faces a number of social problems, such as poverty and high rates of violence against children, and they are defined as priority municipalities by the Costa Rican government. The tour will teach children and their families about children’s rights and about the importance that physical activity plays in the social, emotional and physical development of children.

© UNICEF/Costa Rica/2008
This bus will bring sporting, artistic and recreational materials to children from socially excluded and impoverished communities.

Studies have shown that sports, art and physical activities promote healthy physical conditions, as well as mental well being and positive social interaction among children. These activities 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 of high risk groups.


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


“We are working with children through assuring their participation and leadership in educational and interactive initiatives. This includes sports, theatre and non-competitive football as well as graffiti (street art) in some cases. 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,” explained Roy Arias, Director of Fútbol por la Vida.


The inauguration included non competitive games, street football, activities using “pedals,” theatre and dance presentations, and presentations by clowns that juggle, walk on stilts, among other activities for children.


What children have to say, between the fun and the games

“We live in a country where we should be able to freely express ourselves. I want to express myself through playing sports.”- Deysha Guzmán, 16 years old.


“It helps me stay busy and keeps me away from doing drugs and fighting. A lot of kids in my neighborhood do those things”, revealed Jesús Rivera, 13 years old.


“I learn a lot through sports, especially football. The coaches teach us about protecting ourselves from drugs and violence and how to face our problems through talking. Problems aren’t resolved by punching. Football also teaches me to work in a team.” Heylin Gonzalez, 17 years old.


“Football teaches me teamwork and to help others. I also learn about values to help make me a better person. Today I learned a lot about my rights,” explained Joshue Chaves Flores, 13 years old.


For further information
Michael Martin, mmartin@unicef.org, UNICEF Costa Rica



UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.


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