UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Danny Glover: Visits Two UNICEF-Supported Projects in Sao Paulo, Brazil
Sao Paulo October 5, 2007.- UNICEF GWA Danny Glover: “We are living in authoritarian times, but every day I see children and adolescents holding in their hands an immense potential for transformation”, said UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Danny Glover during his recent visit to two UNICEF-supported projects (Aprendiz and Ceert), in São Paulo, Brazil. The actor, who has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2004, is in Brazil shooting ‘Blindness’, a film based on a book by the Portuguese writer José Saramago, and directed by the Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles. “Once these young people take ownership of themselves and realize the power that they have, we will then be able to change our future. It makes me very happy to talk with these children and adolescents who are participating in the construction of their own growth and emancipation.”
UNICEF Actions with Aprendiz & Ceert: In the area of education, UNICEF supports initiatives that guarantee access to school for 660,000 children (ages 7-14) who are out of school, and supports projects that improve the quality of education in public schools as part of its efforts to ensure the right to learn for each and every child and adolescent in Brazil. In São Paulo, UNICEF works closely with the NGO Aprendiz in the development of diverse actions, including workshops for children and adolescents, and the production of a video to widely disseminate and promote integrated community experiences. In terms of race and ethnicity, UNICEF mobilizes society around the need to remove racism’s negative impact, particularly on the lives of children and adolescents. UNICEF supports federal, state and local governments in the development of policies and programmes that promote equality, recognize diversity and reduce disparities to ensure that the rights of each child and adolescent in Brazil are fulfilled, protected and respected, regardless of race or ethnicity. UNICEF’s collaboration with Ceert focuses on promoting racial equality in education, and through the ‘Educating for Racial Equality’ award, almost 1,000 racial and ethnic diversity promotion classroom experiences have been identified and published to promote wider learning and adaptation. And, through research conducted on racism, institutional cultures are reviewed to stimulate the recognition of differences and the promotion of equality amongst all peoples in Brazil.
The Aprendiz City-School: Enjoying a free day from filming, Glover was accompanied by two Japanese actors, Yoshino and Yuske, and the producer of ‘Blindness’ , Sonoko, during his morning visit to the Aprendiz City-School, which has been experimenting with, using and disseminating the concept of community education since 1997. Located in the Vila Madalena district of São Paulo, Aprendiz serves as the main pedagogical laboratory for the project’s activities. These have helped turn the region into a huge, outdoor classroom through which schools can articulate with other community spaces, thereby helping children and adolescents to learn everywhere, all the time: in squares, streets, theatres, ateliers, and restaurants. UNICEF supports the project in the dissemination of its methodologies to other schools and cities in Brazil. One of the publications distributed with this purpose is the “District-School Step by Step” guide, which describes the experience of Vila Madelena, as well as the experiences of other districts. The guide is used as a reference by the Brazilian Ministry of Education as it explores new ways to provide full-time schooling to Brazilian students, many of whom only attend school four hours a day.
Interaction with Children and Adolescents: Glover and his guests arrived at the Aprendiz City-School, beginning their visit at the ‘Street-School’, an outdoor art gallery where young people produce wall-graffiti paintings. They then stopped at the ‘School-Square’, where children use colour markers to artistically decorate their own t-shirts. At the ‘Galpão’, they observed English classes for adolescents preparing to undertake their university entrance exams. There, Glover spoke to young Brazilians girls and boys about the importance of UNICEF’s work throughout the world, encouraging them to play an active role in the process of constructing the future and stimulating adults to reorganize the world and fight social injustice. The actors also visited the ‘Carlos Maximiliano State School’, which was recently scheduled to be shut down, but was instead renovated through community participation and turned into a cultural centre. On the stage of the newly inaugurated school theatre, the UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador spoke to teachers and students about the importance of the work that UNICEF has been carrying out worldwide to ensure the rights of each child and adolescent. “There is an African saying that it takes a city to educate a child”, stressed Glover, reinforcing how important it is for the whole community to be involved in the process, as the audience did themselves in renovating the centre. Later on, Glover and his guests appreciated the talents of young people participating in a violin and cello class at the Aprendiz Letters Square.
Ceert - Centro de Estudos das Relações de Trabalho e Desigualdades: In the afternoon, Glover, Yoshino and Yuske continued their visit to Ceert (Research Centre on Labour Relations and Inequality), an NGO dedicated to racial and gender equality, which was founded in 1990. The Centre draws on its team of psychologists, legal experts, educators, sociologists, social workers, and personnel managers to conceive and conduct programs for schools, unions, companies and government agencies. Ceert projects are designed to promote public policies in education, health and labour relations, to improve access to the legal system, to guarantee the right to racial equality, and to ensure freedom of religion or beliefs. Advisory services are provided to government agencies, private institutions and social movements in the production of educational materials, and political education and leadership training. Glover spoke to young people assisted by the project about issues of race, and heard how the passion of the Brazilian African-origin movements is managing to change public policies. The group described the actions conducted by Ceert with the participation of youth and the situation of Afro-descendents in Brazil, explaining that while the theme is on the country’s political agenda and is being discussed by society as a whole, much remains to be done.
What the Young People Had to Say: During his visits, Glover spoke to the young people about efforts UNICEF is making with partners to put an end to child labour, an effort appreciated by student Karen Dias de Almeida. “Solving the problem of child labour is very important to improve the lives of children throughout the world”, she said. “When I started these classes, I’d always had to work. Only when I was able to give priority to my studies could I start dreaming of a better life.”
Another student, Robert Sabino, 19, mentioned that the Aprendiz project was helping to expand his horizons. “Thanks to visits to museums, cultural centres and historical sites of São Paulo, I enhanced my knowledge about culture and now I see the city in a different way”, he says. He regards Glover’s visit as “the best of them all”, and yet another way to further expand his world view, as it gave him the chance to meet and talk with the three actors, representing different cultures and countries.
Fellow student Danilo dos Santos Lopes agrees: “These occasions contribute much more to my studies than classes and books”, he says. And, while he knew about UNICEF’s work before the visit, Glover’s visit has encouraged him to do more research about the organization.
UNICEF GWA Danny Glover: World-renowned actor Danny Glover was appointed UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 2004. In addition to previous visits to Brazil (including his hosting of the Banco Itaú-UNICEF Brazil Awards in 2005), he has campaigned to ban landmines in Africa, fund-raised for tsunami victims, and chaired ‘Africa Unite’ in Ethiopia. Glover has received great acclaim for his work on the stage, television, in film and as a producer. He is also highly regarded for his humanitarian efforts. As a Goodwill Ambassador, Glover has supported the work of UNICEF’s National Committees and field offices, and has produced UNICEF public service announcements. While he has a very busy schedule, Glover always finds the time to dedicate himself to UNICEF's mission.
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