Project #1540

Fight for Peace Sports and Education Centre

by Dreams Can Be Foundation

This update was translated and edited for clarity by staff and volunteers of Dreams Can Be Foundation August, 2008

1540 Fight for Peace Sports and Education Centre (Luta Pela Paz) The Association Fight for Peace is immensely grateful for the contribution of all the donors that helped us. Through the received donations it was possible to buy new uniforms for the athletes, and enabled a greater participation in the events and competitions. The Fight for Peace Boxing Club works to confront the issues facing impoverished youth through the focusing on prevention of youth participation in crime and violence. The club is based in Parque União, one of the fifteen favelas or slums of Complexo da Mare, where there has been a decade of territorial drug wars between two of Rio's largest drug trafficking gangs. Currently young people are involved in violence as both aggressors and victims. The Fight for Peace Boxing Club maintains regular contact with youth most affected by violence. The club channels aggression into the ring, transforming it into positive energy in the form of team work, respect for rules, self discipline, self confidence, competition and dedication to sport. Through instruction in citizenship and conflict resolution techniques, club members learn they cannot instigate, participate or encourage violence in the community - they are taught that outside of the ring, potential conflict must be overcome through peaceful mediation and without violence. The club focuses on combating the illnesses of society, school evasion, the use of drugs and criminal behavior. This year, more than 540 children and youth of the “Complexo da Maré” received the benefits of the club through activities such as the sport of boxing, education, social actions, leadership and job opportunities. The Fight for Peace Sports Project is in an area that has the one of the highest indexes of mortality from firearms in Brazil.

The involvement in the crime and the drug traffic does not represent the majority of the children and youth of the “Complexo da Maré”. Approximately 96% do not have involvement with organized crime. Our role is to face this difficult problem and to keep them far from the crime and to reintegrate into society those that have been involved and wish to change their lives. Through an integrated methodology, Fight for Peace offers to the children and youth access to sport, the necessary support to return to or continue in school and real financial alternatives through the formal job market over a life in crime. Fight for Peace started in 2000, as a project of the NGO “Viva Rio”. In 2005, our headquarters was constructed, a building with 750m ² and consisting of two floors so that it could shelter the activities and services for more than 500 children and adolescents. In 2006, the project was evaluated by the American Latin Center of Studies of the Violence - CLAVES of the Fiocruz – Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (in partnership with the Organization Pan-American of Health and the PNUD Program of United Nations for the Development), and determined to be a successful experience in the prevention of the involvement of youth in violence. “The project Fight for Peace shows efficiency, effectiveness and efficacy in the primary prevention of the violence and crime, as it was demonstrated throughout the study”. (P. 139) {{{{{ Em 2006, o projeto foi avaliado pelo Centro Latino Americano de Estudos da Violência – CLAVES da Fiocruz – Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (em parceria com a Organização Pan-Americana de Saúde e o PNUD- Programa das Nações Unidas para o Desenvolvimento), como uma experiência exitosa na prevenção do envolvimento de jovens na violência. “O projeto Luta pela Paz mostra eficiência, eficácia e efetividade na prevenção primária da violência e da criminalidade, como ficou demonstrado ao longo do estudo”.(p. 139)}}}}} In 2007, Fight for Peace won the Laureus Sports For Good prize, considered the Oscar of sport, in the category “Sport for Good”. Also in December of 2007, Fight for Peace became emancipated from its original founding organization and became a nonprofit institution, strengthening its bond with the community “Complexo da Maré”. Through July, 2008, the Fight for Peace project exceeded the expectations of children and youth served by the project reaching 540 attended. More than 300 students were benefited with access to the Internet and 90 children received computer skills courses. Our athletes won expression in the national boxing competitions: Robert, for the second time, won the “Golden Gloves” - important competition in São Paulo. Nilton was invited by the Brazilian Boxing Confederation to qualify for the Pan-American of boxing that will happen in Argentina. Fight for Peace was invited by the State Secretary of Youth to coordinate the table of sports at the State Conference of Youth, that culminated in the National Conference in Brasilia, where two of the projects youth were chosen as delegates to represent the state of Rio de Janeiro. Roberto Custódio started in the project in 2001. Since then he has dedicating himself to boxing and personal and professional growth. Today he is one of the athletes that stands out on the National Boxing scene, having been bi-champion of the “Gold Gloves” - important competition of boxing in São Paulo - and São Paulo’s vice-champion in 2007. Moreover, Roberto today works as the technical assistant for boxing in the project, teaching the children everything he has learned. Leriana Figueiredo – Secretária Executiva The educational potential of sport happens through the respect for rules, the necessity to learn to coexist with others and about victory and defeat and the aspect of discipline in behavior and as an alternative to violence. This evidences the educational potential of sport and its importance for the social system. Sport is a right to be guaranteed to all citizens. The social inclusion through the sport, assuring the access of youth, must occur with a lot of options of sports demonstrations, always to the light of the citizenship, diversity and inclusion. Leriana Figueiredo - Executive Secretary Fight for Peace provides practical alternatives to crime and organized armed violence for children and youth in disadvantaged communities via social inclusion through sports, education, access to the formal work market, the promotion of a culture of peace and building youth leaders. The main objective of the project is that children and youth discover their potential and that they learn new perspectives of life. We hope that our work continues to grow stronger and that we can continue offering opportunities with the objective to breach barriers and to reach peace and form productive citizens, integrating and including children and youth, contributing to the construction of a more just society. We sincerely thank the donors of GlobalGiving and want you to know that your contribution is very important to allow us to continue our work and for many children and youth to have more chances to grow both personally and professionally. Please continue supporting us, making your donations through Global Giving.


Taking Pride in Their Achievements
Taking Pride in Their Achievements


Fight for Peace (FFP) offers practical alternatives for children and youths to get away from involvement in crime and drug trafficking through inclusion in boxing and other martial arts, education, access to the formal work market, the promotion of a culture of peace and building youth leaders for the future. The project was established in July 2000 and is open to both males and females between the ages of 7 and 25 years old that live within the Complexo da Maré.


1 – SPORTS AS A LIFESTYLE: “IM A BOXER NOT A CRIMINAL” Boxing, wrestling and capoeira training are offered by the project, transforming youth aggression into positive energy through teamwork, self-confidence, healthy competition and a respect for rules.

2007 Between January – September 2007, a total of 811 children and young people were participating weekly in boxing, capoeira and wrestling training and citizenships, computer classes and TELESALA.

FFP promotes project beneficiaries, which includes volunteers and paid apprentices within the project, who assist the project’s coaches while being trained as future boxing, wrestling and capoeira coaches. Project beneficiaries are also being trained on a volunteer basis to assist pedagogical staff during citizenship classes.

In 2007, the following project beneficiaries were trained on a volunteer basis as assistants to the boxing coach (Nilton), wrestling coach (Anderson), capoeira coach (Alessandra and Rudival), citizenship classes (Andressa), and the computer teacher (Ruan, Ronierison e Daniel).

FFP boxing, wrestling and capoeira teams continued to take part in competitions and tournaments throughout 2007. Notable results included:

• Boxing competition in São Paulo FORJA dos CAMPEÕES tournament, organized by the Boxing League of the State of São Paulo. Jeferson (semi finalist), Paulo Ricardo (lost in the first round) e Benjamin (finalist).

• A visit to the project by Acelino de Freitas, aka Popó, Brazil’s former four time world super featherweight and lightweight World Champion

• FFP promotes two community boxing shows in Complexo da Mare favela

• Roberto wins the Golden Gloves tournament – Brazil’s second biggest open class tournament after the nationals. Roberto also made the final of the Sao Paulo Championships in September.

• Luta Livre (wrestling) competition - Copa da Amizade. The athletes Luana, Rafael Fernandes, Rodrigo Mendes, Woshigton Militão e Anderson Horst won the competition.

• Luta Livre (wrestling) competition - Copa Ilha Jequitiá Olímpica e Submission. The athetes Luana, Thais, Rodrigo Mendes, Woshigton Militão, Anderson Horst, Alex Almeida, Anderson Rodrigues. Rafael Fernandes and Carlos Augusto won the competition.

2 - EDUCATION FOR THE FUTURE Through education, young people expand their horizons, develop skills and abilities and increase their chances of entering the job market. The project partners with local schools to re-integrate school-age youth, and also houses Viva Rio’s TELESALA project which offers primary and secondary school education to teenagers and young adults.

2007 Through the TELESALA program, teenagers who had previously dropped out of the school system and have been unable to matriculate again are able to finish their primary level education.

Thanks to Juniper 32 young people between 16-25 years of age have taken part in a daily TELESALA primary level education course during 2007 at the FFP Centre. Exam results will be available in December 2007.

3 - SOCIAL ACTION; PROMOTOING A CULTURE OF PEACE Non-violence is an intrinsic part of the project. In addition to the sports training, classes are held to educate project members in citizenship and non-violence conflict resolution. Project youth join discussions on topics including sex-education, family, work, human rights, culture and violence. While also learning that they cannot instigate, participate or encourage violence. The social team accompanies and evaluates each young person in the project: their school performance, family, and economic situation. The project’s youth-workers also conduct periodic family visits and organize meetings with the parents and guardians. Other activities promoted by the social team include the screening of films and cultural visits within the city.

2007 Between January and September 2007, citizenship classes have been held daily for all 541 members of the Fight for Peace project.

Notable courses and events in this area included:

• Social visit to the theater to watch the play “O Pequenino Grão de Areia” by “Azuka Produções”.

• Course for youth in the citizenship classes: “Prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, in partnership with the Program “Ana e Maria” (Anna and Mary), a Viva Rio project that offers support and health care for adolescents that are pregnant or have babies up to the age of 2 years old, including both boys and girls.

• Social visit: cultural walk in the city centre to visit some of Rio’s historical monuments.

• Guest speaker for the citizenship classes: “Prevention of violence against women” in partnership with the NGO CAMTRA (Casa da Mulher Trabalhadora).

• Social visit: Santa Teresa, a Rio’s historical neighbor. Cinema to see the film “Mestre Bimba, a Capoeira Iluminada.

• Social visit: Panamerican games – wrestling competitions; and para-panamerican games to see Clodoaldo Silva win the gold medal.

• Environmental Course including visits to Botanical Garden and Black Stone Park, a conservation area protected by the State Institute of Forestry.

• Theatre presentation about social inclusion in partnership with NGO “Escola de Gente” – event in commemoration of two year anniversary party for the FFP building.

4- ACCESS TO THE LABOR MARKET In areas where there is easy access to money through illegal activities, an important means of preventing youth involvement in crime and the drug trade is to offer them financial alternatives, including the opportunity to enter the formal job market. Fight for Peace partners with private companies, public institutions and non-governmental organizations to provide training and skills building for project youth. The project also offers in house computer classes to help beneficiaries prepare for the formal job market and promote digital inclusion and communication.

2007 Notable courses and events in this area included:

• 60 youth attended the program “Guia Cívico” (preparing youth to work during the Pan American Games): FFP offers the Centre’s classrooms to SENASP (Secretaria Nacional de Segurança Pública / National Secretary for Public Security) to host two classes for this course.

• Juniper funding has also aided the hiring of a fulltime IT teacher and a young FFP beneficiary is assisting as a teaching assistant. Courses started in March 2006 with the projects new computer lab and since then 80 children and youth have completed intermediary level computer courses. Between February and September 2007, 116 students have completed computer courses in word, excel, windows and over 240 accesses to the internet per week free of charge.

5 – YOUTH FOR THE FUTURE Fight for peace encourages members to improve the society in which they live, by assuming leadership roles. Members are also invited to take an active role in overall project co-ordination, through the Youth Council. During 2006 the youth Council has met monthly and participated in all the projects group staff meetings.

(The above methodology is used in order that young people in high-risk environments are able to respond to all of the risk factors they face that have been identified as common in encouraging them to join the drug trade or becoming involved in crime . This means that the project is able to offer young people the correct tools (protection factors) to actively choose a different path . )

2007 Notable courses and events in this area included:

• Partnership with NGO Promundo: program “Jovens em Movimento” (“Youth in Movement”) to work with public policies.


• In March of 2007, Fight for Peace’s founder, Luke Dowdney, received the Sport for Good Award at the Laureus World Sports Awards in Barcelona for his work with Fight for Peace.

• Luke Dowdney with Marvin Hagler, former undisputed middleweight World Champion, at the Laureus awards in Barcelona

• At the end of 2006, Fight for Peace underwent an external evaluation carried out by CLAVES (Latin American Centre for the Study of Violence and Health) on behalf of UNDP (United Nations Development Programme); PAHO (Pan American Health Organisation); USP (University of Sao Paulo); and Brazilian Ministry for Health. Exerts from the concluding final report include:

“On concluding this evaluation research and taking into account the numerous complexities of any social intervention such as that carried out by Fight for Peace, we can confirm that this is a very successful project within a locality of extremely high socio-environmental stress [this refers to the non-state armed actors openly patrolling the community]. The project’s hypothesis, aims and activities join in an excellent synergy that lead them to reach proposed objectives and targets via their philosophy and practice.” pg137 “…as shown during this study, the Fight for Peace project demonstrates efficiency, quality and effectiveness in primary prevention of violence and criminality.” pg139 “...Among the many virtues that Fight for Peace has, we stress that, in our opinion, if taking into account the project’s specific scope, it can be replicated in any Community or Neighbourhood where armed violence exists and obtain success.” pg138

Supporting Their Culture
Supporting Their Culture
Always Training Hard
Always Training Hard


Click below to watch a great video about the Fight for Peace project! Thanks for your continued support of our work in Brazil.


2007 has been a challenging but highly rewarding year for Fight for Peace (Luta Pela Paz) so far.

As mentioned in our previous update, their founder, Luke Dowdney, won a prestigious Laureus award (often seen as the ‘oscars’ of the sporting world) in the category of ‘Sport for Good’. This was fantastic recognition for the amount of work that has gone into the project as well as the tremendous difference it is making every day to children’s lives.

2007 has also seen the successful launch of Fight for Peace in London as part of Luta Pela Paz’s wider mission to bring its concept to disadvantaged youths around the globe. And, whilst Luta Pela Paz’s Rio centre still urgently needs more funding (see below), their activities in the middle of the notorious Mare complex continue to grow from strength to strength.

Importantly, the just over two thousand dollars raised so far have been used to buy additional sports equipment meaning that the centre can reach more children and run more activities. And with this added focus has come further success for the athletes.

In 2007, Luta Pela Paz athletes performed well in 2 major boxing competitions: Jeferson Mendes reached the final in the Rio de Janeiro State Championships, whilst Roberto Custodio actually brought home the gold in another; the prestigious national Golden Gloves tournament. Two great achievements!

Luta Pela Paz also successfully organised a Sports & Citizenship public event in the Mare complex, where their boxers competed against visitors from Sao Paulo. This event helped to bring their message and activities to the wider local community, whilst allowing the youths to proudly demonstrate their skills.

In Luta Livre (wrestling), the project’s athletes recently won ‘best team’ at a tournament held in Rio’s Alemao complex – a shining example for the other children in the community.

In the area of Capoeira, Luta Pela Paz is also experiencing significant growth in 2007. This year’s Capoeira Batizado attracted 82 pupils – that’s twice the number of last year.

As always, Luta Pela Paz aims to bring wider education to its participants as well as sports coaching. Citizenship classes continue to be attended by the children involved in the project… perhaps surprisingly often getting even higher levels of interest from the students than the actual sport itself! So too theatre trips and cultural visits to Rio’s historical districts have given increasing numbers of children a taste of life outside of the favela.

The video – have you seen it yet?

This year has also seen the production of Fight for Peace’s new video. If you haven’t seen it yet – take a look and see firsthand what your money is enabling: The young people’s enthusiasm for the project is infectious, whilst their accounts of living in one of Rio’s most notorious favelas are genuine and eye-opening.

There’s still some way to go – we need your help

Luta Pela Paz is increasingly looking to sustain itself financially with various projects in the pipeline to raise funds on an ongoing basis. However, right now, Luta Pela Paz still needs to urgently raise a further $20,000 to complete the roof of their Rio centre and therefore create even more space for activities. Additionally, the remaining $1800 originally requested here will continue to fund much-needed equipment and supplies.

All individual donations are welcomed – these help Luta Pela Paz buy the essentials needed to keep their projects running. So too Luta Pela Paz are currently seeking grants for the next 3 years for seed-project replication costs.

In 2005 FFP built the Fight for Peace Sports and Education Centre, a purpose built half a million dollar 700m2 Centre in the favela that houses a fully equipped boxing and martial arts gym, changing rooms, 2 fully equipped classrooms, a computer lab, staff office and a wheel chair lift and toilets to make the building fully accessible. Increased capacity means that the project can now offer activities and services to up to 500 children, young people and adults from the community per semester.

Over 1000 children, adolescents and young people have attended the FFP in Rio de Janeiro since it was established in 2000. 26 participants that had dropped out of school were successfully reintegrated into the formal school system by the project, 15 children and adolescents with difficulties at school given extra tuition and 35 young people given full-time primary level schooling on the TELESALA project in 2006. 1440 citizenship classes have been held by the project to date; topics discussed have included sex-education, family, work, human rights, culture and conflict resolution. 900 home visits have been made by project staff to talk with and offer support services and referrals to families of project beneficiaries. Over 700 food baskets have been awarded to project beneficiaries and members of the community in need. 15 young people from the project have completed job training courses at partner organisations and 28 project beneficiaries have been referred by the project to paid employment positions. 5 young people who were originally beneficiaries on the project are now full-time staff members at the project. FFP has produced two state champion amateur boxers and has hosted 32 boxing shows including the Rio de Janeiro State Championships in partnership with the RJ Boxing League.

Luke Dowdney, the founder of Fight For Peace, won the prestigious Laureus Sport for Good Award in Barcelona this year. Laureus uses the power of sport to help tackle pressing social challenges through a worldwide programme of sports related community development initiatives funded and supported by the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. Laureus attracts groups of people who share a belief in the power of sport to break down barriers, to engage with others and to change the world for the better. It seeks to inspire hope and positive change for children around the world using sport as a unique social vehicle. It was an amazing honor for Fight For Peace to be recognized by the Laureus Foundation. Please see the link below for a video of the award presentation by actress Eva Longoria.

Building on the success of FFP in Rio de Janeiro and extensive international research into the involvement of children and adolescents in crime, gangs and organised armed groups outside of traditionally defined situations of war, FFP is now aiming to replicate in other communities where young people are adversely affected by and involved in crime, gangs and gun violence. FFP will replicate seed-projects in London (2007), South Africa (2008) and Colombia (2009).



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Organization Information

Dreams Can Be Foundation

Location: Johnstown, PA - USA
Website: http:/​/​​
Project Leader:
Luke Dowdney
COAV Executive Coordinator
Rio de Janeiro, RJ Brazil

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