Youngsters from the Youth Award in Contagem (MG) play a friendly soccer match against Apac rehabilitees

28 June 2012 - A youth group from International Award Programme from the region of Nacional in Contagem (MG) has played a lively friendly football match against young rehabilitees from the Association of Protection and Assistance to Convicts (Apac) in Santa Luzia (MG). With the moto "Building our future - Game of Peace" this initiative aimed at strengthening the feeling of belonging and citizenship of these youth groups.

The initiative stemmed from AVSI Foundation, as part of its actions in support of human rights and activities to reduce and prevent violence through projects with the European Instrument for Promoting Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) - Beyond Walls, and UNODC - United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime - in partnership with International Award Programme.

The activity took place in the local Apac units Santa Luzia, metropolitan region of Belo Horizonte (MG) on Saturday (2 May), and was composed by two very well-played matches. In the first match, APC youth won 5-4 and were, then, defeated by 1-0 by Award Programme.

In addition to the game, visitors toured Apac facilities, became acquainted with the difficulties of the re-socialization process, heard striking testimonies from the youth rehabilitees on problems related to crime and violence, and, finally, attended a social lunch.

AVSI director in Minas Gerais, Gianfranco Commodaro, affirmed that combining the two projects coordinated by the Italian Foundation (Beyond Walls and Award Programme) through a sporting event was a great opportunity for integration of two communities which have experienced the issues of violence and crime.

The coordinator of the New Path Programme from the Minas Gerais Court of Justice, Judge Joaquim Alves de Andrade, highlighted the meeting's innovative character. He stated that" the initiative was very important to strengthen Apac youth self-esteem in the process of re-socialization." The meshing of Apac youth with different social groups is essential for their maturation" he said.

Joint Programme Security with Citizenship

About two years ago, the Nacional region of Contagem (MG), area of ​​high social vulnerability, suffered a nine-day curfew imposed by delinquency, which caused a major trauma to the local population.

The occurrence drew the attention of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which began operating in the region as one of six UN institutions members of the Joint Programme Security with Citizenship. The goal is to work towards violence prevention and strengthening citizenship among the youth. One of the projects supported by this initiative is the International Award Programme, which seeks the promotion of citizenship through sports for young people between the ages of 14 and 24.

UNODC selected AVSI Foundation to run the Award Programme in the specific case of Contagem (MG). AVSI - strategic partner of APACs since early 2011 - is an Italian NGO for international cooperation present in 40 countries. Through the "Beyond Walls" Project, it promotes the strengthening of Apac units' management.

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