The Changemaker Program – Create lasting, locally-led change to foster peace and prosperity
Support and empower disadvantaged local youth so they can run their own sport project and create dramatic positive change in their community
Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)
In times of war, natural disaster and displacement, the need to support children and youth is as crucial as ever. The number of displaced people around the world has risen to an incredible number of 65.5 million, more than half of them being children. We at Capoeira4Refugees believe they should have the chance to experience a normal childhood and not become involved in militias or criminal gangs, drug abuse, or recruitment by extremists. They desperately need positive role models, purpose, and a safe space, so they can reach their full potential. Our decade of working locally shows that investing in these young people today will ensure prosperity and peace for tomorrow.
We provide informal education and contribute to conflict resolution where formal structures are not available or insufficient. We use the unique artform of capoeira, consisting of music, sport and play, to provide psychosocial support and create positive change for disadvantaged communities. Capoeira is a peaceful, non-physical sport based on values such as discipline, respect and teamwork, which makes it a powerful tool to foster peace and teach life skills. Our participants learn how to peacefully address their traumatic experiences, stress and frustrations, as well as core skills such as critical thinking and leadership. Within the safe spaces we create, we help these children realize their full potential.
In line with the overall development in the third sector towards the localization of aid, we do not run capoeira projects through international trainers but help locals set up and run their own. The Changemaker Program supports local youth in disadvantaged locations, such as conflict zones or refugee communities, gain the skills and network to make their projects a success. Our main goal is to get young people off the streets, support them in overcoming their mental health issues and improve their overall wellbeing, thereby preventing violent behaviors and increasing their employability.
Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)
Our beneficiaries are: i our Changemaker Award fellows and ii the vulnerable children and youth they work with.
Our fellows: aged 18+, from disadvantaged communities, talented, committed, bridge-builders. All of them show the drive and passion to initiate change in their own communities through sport, but lack the support, skills or knowledge to set up and run a project. The Changemakers will receive financial support, mentoring, and training to enable them to successfully run their own social sport project and make it sustainable. The Award also fosters their personal development, which increases their employability and makes them integral role models in society.
Our students: children and youth aged 4-18 from marginalized communities, such as refugee camps or slums. These kids often show serious mental health issues as well as negative behaviors. The idea will help them overcome their trauma, improve their overall wellbeing and teach them how to peacefully interact with others.
How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)
- Innovative: combining an Ashoka-like model with brand-new tech-solutions to have a collaborative and lasting social impact
- Built on sustainable success: we are proud to have seeded independent capoeira projects run by locals in the Middle East and beyond
- Grassroots: starting off as a truly local organization with a bottom-up approach addressing real local needs, we empower those locals nobody else wants to work with
- Domino-effect: each fellow trains up students to become assistant trainers, so they in turn set up their own classes and train up others, which supports sustainable grassroots change and ensures future capacity for our project even beyond our presence
- Experience: we have been in the field for 10 years with a proven record of successful projects working with vulnerable children and youth in refugee camps, prisons, safe houses
- Shifting power structures: we listen carefully and are fully responsive to what locals need and want – they take the lead.
Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)
Early Adoption: I have completed a pilot and analyzed the impact of that pilot on the intended users of the idea. I have begun to expand the pilot for early adoption.
Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)
Having worked in war and conflict zones, including in areas occupied by ISIS, for more than 10 years, Capoeira4Refugees aims to truly localize aid by empowering local youth to run their independent social capoeira projects and promote peace and prosperity in their own communities.
Organization Filing Status
Yes, we are a registered non-profit.
In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.
When the war started in 2010, we had to leave Syria, close the office and stop our amazing projects which were helping thousands of children. What drove us to start the Changemaker Program, was the realization that despite our absence, brilliant local trainers continued running our capoeira projects, helping promote peace and prosperity in their own communities. We saw there is no need for internationals to do the job, but we should rather help locals be heard and receive the support they need.
Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).
We work in locations impacted by crisis and displacement, characterized by instability, violence and poverty. Children and youth often suffer the most from traumatic experiences and the lack of educational and leisure activities in these contexts. A ‘lost’ generation vulnerable to terrorism, radical violence and loss of hope. We see an increase in tensions between refugee and host communities, in youth gang criminality and in extremist thinking, which terrorists are keen to pick up on. Many young people are unable to benefit from formal education because structures have broken down or they do not have the support or mental health to engage in learning. Employment opportunities are rare, and the lack of education makes it incredibly hard for them to find a job. The consequence? Frustration, anger, violent behavior and hopelessness – threatening society’s peace and prosperity. To overcome this vicious cycle of poverty and violence, young people need support to reach their full potential.
Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)
- We deliver trainings in partnership with local and international partners, for instance psychosocial aid trainings for our fellows
- Local communities are closely engaged as they actively shape the design and implementation of the project. This includes families, teachers, community leaders. Only that way can we truly empower local assets and provide effective capacity building for young locals
- Academic and expert partnerships support the development of programme materials and the monitoring and evaluation of our projects. Together with the University of East London we have for instance published academic research on the impact of our work; psychologists and child-protection experts helped us draft the first version of the Changemaker training curriculum
- By engaging IT/technology experts, we will be able to further develop the tech side of our idea, enabling us to remotely support the fellows
- Supporters of C4R around the world will also help Changemakers run their projects.
Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)
Most people in the communities we work in are under 18 – young people willing to learn, work and grow. Despite difficult living conditions, war, inequality, these communities are highly resilient. They know best how to negotiate the complex security, cultural and political minefield of war zones or poverty. They are often incredibly talented, committed, and show the drive and passion to actively contribute to peace and prosperity and overcome the difficult social conditions they live in.
Pilot in refugee camps/slums in Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Turkey, Peru. Now expand to other regions.
How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)
The Changemaker Award is a 24-months fellowship program supporting young locals to develop the skills necessary to work in conflict and other difficult settings with children and youth traumatized by their experiences of war, poverty, and inequality. The training curriculum is designed to support Fellows over a period of two years in which they set up their own social sport project to support vulnerable children in their own communities, and make the project sustainable to create real change.
Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)