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Sowing Futures in Brazil: Joining Forces, Realizing Dreams
Published 05/03/2019 by Global Communities
Students Step Up to Make a Difference
When Wesley Carneiro da Silva entered the public school of Benedicta de Salles Pimentel Wutke, located in the neighborhood of Jardim Nova América, in Campinas/SP, he never thought he would end up contributing so much to its development.
“I started attending the school very young. At the time, I didn’t think I would contribute so much to its growth. As time passed, I realized that we, the students, could also do our share, but I didn’t even know where to start,” he says.
Leaving his shyness to the side and determined to make a difference, Wesley decided to sign up to participate in the school’s student council. During 2018, he and 14 other colleagues took part in Youth Leadership training programs facilitated by John Deere volunteers as part of the John Deere at School program.
With the acquired knowledge, an extra dose of motivation, and having the school’s problems mapped out, Wesley and his colleagues went in search of a partnership with community leaders in the neighborhood. That is how Benedicta Bem Bonita was born, a project that aims to free the school walls from destructive graffiti and vandalism.
“We were very happy when the students came to talk to us. The neighborhood coordination committee of Jardim Nova America already wanted to do something for the only school in the area, enhancing its looks and getting rid of vandalism. To count on the students to plan and implement this project was very enriching and motivating to all of us,” affirms José Edinaldo Feitosa, neighborhood community leader.
It took weeks of planning and several community meetings for the dreamed project to be finalized and sent to the Sowing Futures Program Community Fund. The grant made the project’s realization possible, by the hands of the community leaders and the students from the association.
“Working with the community leaders and participating in the meetings was very important for us in the student council. They are already adults and their experience helped us to implement our plans,” affirms Wesley.
With the goal of integrating all twelve hundred students in the school, the student council promoted a drawing contest. The selected drawings would be painted on the wall by volunteer artists from the community or other neighborhoods.
“The drawing contest was very important because it made possible the participation of all the students in the project. All classes took part and elected a representative,” says Wesley.
Benedicta Bem Bonita was executed in two days and gathered more than 20 volunteers, among neighborhood residents, students and artists, which painted the students’ drawings on the wall. The result made everyone proud.
“It was really great to see the final result. It makes us so proud to think of the entire trajectory until the day of implementation. The partnership with the student council and the possibility of writing and submitting our first project to the Community Fund. We put into practice what we learned during our community development training,” affirms José Edinaldo.
Thinking about the future, Wesley wants to continue working for the school and the community. In 2019, he will take part again in the student council and promises even more collaboration with the community leaders from the Jardim Nova America neighborhood.
“I want to continue working to improve my school and my neighborhood, and attend more often the neighborhood coordinating committee meetings. I think it is very important to cultivate collaboration with those that have more experience and want to change the neighborhood like me,” he affirms.
Building Safe Spaces for School Sports
Those who first visit the Deolinda Maneira Severo public school, located in the neighborhood of Jardim Oliveira Camargo, in Indaiatuba/SP, cannot imagine how difficult it was for students to take physical education classes before the “Dignified and Safe Sport” project was implemented by the school’s student council.
Emanuely Thayane Sampaio Gomes, student council president and community leader from Jardim Oliveira Camargo neighborhood, tells us how hard and dangerous it was to perform daily activities at the multi-use sports field.
“Before we got it remodeled, it was very difficult to do gym classes in the field here. There were holes everywhere, and the goal crossbars and basketball hoops were in terrible conditions. The rough ground was the worst part: if you fell, you’d get really hurt. Because of this, many students avoided going to those classes,” she shares.
Deciding to change this situation, the members of the student council created a project and applied to the Sowing Futures Program Community Fund, and received a grant in 2018, to the happiness of all those involved.
“When our project was approved, we were very happy. It was an opportunity to enhance the sports field that we use every day,” affirms Emanuely.
Besides the grounds revitalization and change of equipment, an organized collective action was carried out during two prior weekends, in partnership with the Neighborhood Coordinating Committee, to design drawings and paint the walls. Rafael Gomes, community leader and visual artist, talks about the importance of integrating community and school.
“It’s really great to take the art of graffiti inside the school to contribute to the students’ projects. Besides being safe, the sports field is now very pretty with their collaboration,” he affirms.
In 2019, Emanuely won’t be in the school anymore, but she wants to continue working with the Neighborhood Coordinating Committee and with the next generation of student council members to continue improving the institution.
“Even though I will have graduated, I want to continue working here and helping the students to solve other problems. I am also happy because my two brothers will continue to study here for many years and will take advantage of the sports field and other improvements to come,” she says.
Better Infrastructure for a Quality Learning Experience
The students of the Albino Fantin school, in Horizontina/RS, were very excited about the donation of 30 laptop computers by John Deere, which would enable them to improve their learning experience. Nevertheless, the computers were not being used because the school didn’t have an adequate space to host one more computer lab.
In the face of this situation, the school’s student council developed the project “Revitalization of the new computer lab” and applied to the program’s Community Fund. By means of this grant, they were able to acquire tables and chairs and revitalize the room that today hosts the school’s second computer lab. With this achievement, approximately 320 students – comprising high school and adult/vocational education – are benefiting from the new lab and are dedicating more time to after-school studying .
For Miriam Bourscheid, one of the school’s history teachers, having one more computer lab improved the students’ learning process.
“The second lab is very important, since we have eight classes per period. The majority of the students come from low-income families and do not have internet at home. So they use the school’s computer lab for their research when they are not in class. Besides, it happened many times that a teacher wanted to use the computer lab to teach a class and it was not available,” she affirms.
Partners in Transformation
As you can see from these stories, the Sowing Futures Program Community Fund implemented by Global Communities enabled many dreams to come true in 2018. Students and community, in search of a better education, pulled together to develop projects that transformed the school community.
In Indaiatuba/SP, Deolinda Maneira Severo school students made an old dream come true: the revitalization of the multi-functional sports field. In Campinas/SP, the student council and community leaders from Jardim Nova America neighborhoo joined forces to transform walls covered in vandalizing graffiti at the Benedicta Wutke school. The Albino Fantin school student council, in Horizontina/RS, designed a project to create a new computer lab and won a grant from the Community Fund.
In all of these projects, in addition to obtaining a grant, youth invested time and talent to earn the support of their peers and broader community and contribute improving their school environement. Student and neighborhood leaders contributed approximately 40% of the projects’ total value through sweat equity and in-kind contributions.
In 2018, the Sowing Future Program’s Community Fund funded 13 projects, which targeted opportunities for youth development across three cities. As a result:
2366 hours of volunteer work were mobilized;
3800 people directly benefited; and
Over $28,000 of funds were invested including direct community contribution.