Xinhua News Agency: UNDP transforms the destiny of adolescents in Brazil with culture and art

Source: Xinhua News AgencyBy: Zhao Yan, Correspondent in Rio de JaneiroOpen translation from Chinese by the RIO+ Centre

Rio de Janeiro, 23 January 2017  – Gathered in the Cultural Centre of the city of Belford Roxo in the Baixada (metropolitan region of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), rappers are motivating young people from this deprived and violent region to get involved in sustainable development initiatives under the scope of a pilot project from the UNDP World Centre for Sustainable Development (RIO+ Centre).

Green-haired Bianca Flanza was very conspicuous and excited; she has been participating in the ‘Baixada Never Quits’ (Baixada Nunca se Rende, or#BXDNuncaSeRende) open group of musicians, a collaboration between the United Nations and local artists. In addition to rap, she has also learned how to dance and told reporters that music, dance and arts brought great changes to her life and to many others in the region.

‘I used to feel very depressed sometimes, not motivated at all. That’s when I started to see some old friends joining street rap performances and saw that as a great opportunity. Some of them were involved in drug trafficking before, and now, because of music, are able to make new friends and experience amazing moments. I have made a lot of new friends since I joined the group. Now I feel happy again”, she said.

Her teacher, Laris, is a dance teacher at Belford Roxo’s Cultural Centre. ‘Our programme is free, weekly, and well-designed. There are many talented young people, like Bianca, who will be able to teach with me soon,’ Laris said.

Belford Roxo is considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world, with a population of nearly 500,000 and a homicide rate of 45 per 100,000 people, with drug gangs in almost every neighborhood and education levels at the bottom of the of the State of Rio’s assessments. In order to bring more opportunities to the youth, the city government is now also planning to invest in more options for children’s development, exposing them to culture and arts.

According to the city’s culture secretary, Bruno Nunes, there were no cinemas or theaters a few years ago, and people could only listen to music on the radio and watch movies on television. ‘Now we’re going to foster culture in every single neighborhood. Through a cultural cooperation with the United Nations, we are able to show to the population that there is a positive side of the city, with arts and education opportunities. In fact, the Baixada is a huge potential pool of young talents, giving thus opportunity for people to become artists, teachers or doctors, which means better living conditions for all the local population.’

In the Muquiço community located in Madureira district of Rio, Igor Yizi and his friend Lucas Zamp are drawing a graffiti panel showing social equality on the outer walls of a house. Igor said he hopes that through his graffiti works, the residents of the community can understand the concept of sustainable development.

Igor said that some friends had embarked on illegal pathways, but are now focusing on graffiti and art to gain some recognition and managed to say goodbye to illegal activities.

According to Layla Saad, Deputy Director of the United Nations Development Programme’s World Centre for Sustainable Development, the UN adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in September 2015 with the ultimate goal of eradicating extreme poverty, overcoming inequality and mitigating climate change.

‘We now need to crystallize this process, open the doors to culture and arts and let everyone get to know about this agenda. We have chosen some of the poorest communities in Rio that are extremely unequal and violent, but still, have many gifted and talented children and young people. We want to show that the most marginalized areas are a very important part of our work and projects,’ Saad said.

The UNDP Centre and documentarists from Brazil and Europe are producing documentaries on these pilot projects, aiming at extending this model to all 166 developing countries that have signed off the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Original article by Xinhua News Agency:

Other articles published in the Chinese media:

Further information in English:

Agência Brasil

Joint Media Advisory by UNDP RIO+ Centre and General Consulate of Italy in Rio de Janeiro