Please describe the goal of your initiative; outline what you are trying to achieve
Capoeira is played in more than 100 countries by millions of people from all walks of life. We aim to tap into this global family in order to share the gifts of the art form with vulnerable communities around the world. To do this, we are piloting a program in refugee camps and oppressed communities in Palestine in order to develop templates, tools, and resources that others could implement in communities worldwide. Furthermore, we are creating innovative administrative and online infrastructure that will connect interested volunteers with social capoeira projects internationally. We intend to support the launch of sustainable social capoeira programs such that kids and communities have the psychosocial skills and the emotional strength to endure their difficult circumstances.
What has been the impact of your solution to date?
The impact of capoeira on children we work with is immediate: teachers and families notice improvements in communication, respectful behavior, and emotional management from their first class. Kids learn to work together as a community, thinking beyond their individual wants, becoming more tolerant and patient, and understanding alternatives to violence as a solution.
Early-stage assessments indicate significant progress for participants. For example, of the 28 girls from the Jalazone Refugee Camp who were initially identified with behavioral issues, 22 girls have demonstrated enormous gains socially and behaviorally.
Children and adults are given a new space and method for expressing themselves, which has far-reaching implications in their social and personal lives. Capoeira teaches physical coordination, but also connection to and control over one’s own body, which is especially novel and important for girls and women in the conservative cultures found in the camps.
What is your projected impact over the next five years?
In Palestine, we aim to be included in school curricula in the refugee camps and elsewhere. After training several Palestinians to themselves become social capoeira teachers and counselors, we will help launch several locally-run capoeira centers. We envision capoeira to be a focal point of communities, providing intergenerational meeting spaces for healthy expression and interaction. As a result, we anticipate healthier communities exhibiting enhanced life skills: more self-confidence, interpersonal acceptance, empowered females, and enhanced ability to handle difficult situations that are part of living in vulnerable communities.
Moreover, we project that we will be launching similar programs in 3-4 additional countries, for which we are already doing assessments and making contacts.
What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?
From our pilot projects, we’ve learned that vulnerable communities generally have low levels of fitness and coordination, short attention spans, and learning disorders. As such, most initial class time is spent on focusing attention, working with others, and integrating group norms.
International volunteers usually come with a language barrier and other cultural dissonance. Frequent turnover of teachers is a logistical issue that also impacts the participants.
Building trusting relationships with local communities can take extensive amounts of time and investment to establish active, supportive partnerships with local leaders and organizations.
Finally, working in vulnerable communities can involve uncertainty, especially given the potential for aggression, violence, and war.
Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
Develop an administrative base of operations
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
Teaching 500 kids a week in Palestine (15 classes/week)