Education programme takes Rio 2016 beyond Brazilian borders
While the Olympic Games themselves last just 16 days, the experiences and relationships inspired by Rio 2016 will continue long beyond this year and beyond Brazil’s borders.
Thanks to the Rio 2016 educational programme, Transforma, over 6 million pupils at more than 12,000 schools across Brazil and abroad have experienced new sports for the first time. Starting in 2013 with 15 schools in Rio de Janeiro, the initiative includes lessons and coaching sessions, as well as sports festivals where kids and adults alike can try something new. One of the festivals took place at the Rocinha Sports Complex, drawing members of the public from the nearby São Conrado neighbourhood and Rocinha favela in Rio.
Janderson Wagner, 41, a former sitting volleyball athlete for Vasco da Gama who had his left leg amputated, was among those to take part to promote the Paralympic sport.
“I want to encourage both the population of children and other disabled people to one day join the sitting volleyball with current teams or even create new teams,” he says.
A Transforma festival also took place in Providencia favela, the oldest in Rio, where children tried out tennis, golf, fencing and windsurfing at a nearby Vila Olimpica sports centre.
“I’ve enjoyed sports since I was little,” says Ionara Santana, 12. “Today I played golf for the first time and later I want to try table tennis. “It’s a lot better than staying at home doing nothing. There is sport for everybody here, whatever their race, colour, size or age.”
The main objective of the program is to broaden the range of sports played by children in Brazil beyond the most popular, which include football, volleyball and basketball. But it has also had an international element, which has seen 17 schools in Rio paired with schools in some of the countries that have consulates based in the Olympic city. In the first exchange, the schools each prepared a cultural box for their partner school with items that represented their country.
“There were flags, cooking recipes, even a Flamengo football shirt,” says Vanderson Berbat, education manager at Rio 2016.
On a designated day, the consulates would collect the boxes and exchange it with those from their countries. Pedro Alvares Cabral school in Copacabana, which will host Games venues during Rio 2016, was paired with the Netherlands. Patricia Broers, cultural attaché of the Netherlands, said the famous Dutch biscuit, stroopwafel, was the first thing to go into the box. The second exchange involved pupils making a video message about the most popular sports in their countries.
Mr Berbat adds: “As well as working with new sports, we’re also working with Olympic values.”
As the programme came to an end, representatives from each of the local schools and consulates attended a special presentation at Rio Art Museum where the schools received an Olympic torch. The bond formed is set to continue via a link-up between a school in Japan and Rio as the Olympic cycle moves on to Tokyo 2020.