15 January 2015 - UNODC, in partnership with several other UN organizations and the Government of Peru, recently launched a youth-oriented sports initiative aimed at reducing crime rates associated with gang violence. The project, which forms part of a wider programme in the country and is supported by the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security, provides healthy lifestyle alternatives, and promotes fair play on and off the field among more than 24,000 teenagers.
UNODC's office in Peru together with UNDP, UNFPA, WHO and the UN Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament jointly manage the youth sports programme aiming to enhance community development and reduce crime. The programme also provides intensive training for coaches and mentors on sportsmanship, ethics and fair play as a tool to prevent young people from being involved in criminal activities.
Luis Miguel Gonzales Rosell, Director of the Trujillo-based NGO DeportVida, describes a number of innovative practices that have been implemented by UNODC since the start of the sports programme: "Ethical conduct, rather than winning a championship, is now the core of what we organize at the community and municipal level, and the kids and their parents enjoy the programme much more. The initiative helps us to keep at-risk kids off the streets, and to ultimately reduce crime, including gang violence."
The project is part of a broader effort among the United Nations in Peru to apply best practices in crime prevention and criminal justice reform as well as providing technical advice on community watch programmes. Other elements being implemented are the promotion of alternatives to youth incarceration, including community service for non-violent offenders, and the enhancement of vocational and entrepreneurial programmes in poor and crime-stricken areas, particularly for women and adolescents.