Rede Brasil (Brazil Network)
Fight for Peace (FFP) uses boxing and martial arts (B&MA) combined with education and personal development to realise the potential of young people in communities affected by crime and violence. FFP adopts a holistic Five Pillar methodology which aims to help young people out of crime and violence and into education and work.
The “Rede Brasil” (Brazil Network) project is FFP’s national training programme in Brazil, which aimed to expand and consolidate FFP’s methodology in communities around Brazil which suffer from high levels of crime and violence. FFP carefully identified a range of partners in the cities of Manaus, Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Fortaleza, Caucaia and Nova Iguaçu – all of which have suffered an explosion in rates of violence in the last 10 years- , training them in its innovative values-led approach to engaging "at-risk" young people. FFP offered partner organisations 12 months of support, including a week of intensive training, evaluation, and regular consultation.
Rede Brasil (Brazil Network) addresses the following Millennium Development Goals:
-By 2020, to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers: FFP focuses on young people in low-income communities.
-Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling: Education is one of FFP’s Five Pillars - we train organisations to use B&MA as a platform to support and encourage young people into personal development opportunities including formal education.
-Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all: FFP trains organisations in proven approaches to helping young people prepare for employment and access jobs.
HOW THE OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED
The positive outcomes of all FFP activities stem from the strength of FFP’s methodology. FFP’s innovative Five Pillars approach is based on empirical research carried out by its founder, Luke Dowdney, which found that youth involvement in crime and violence is multi-causal, and consequently the response to this must be holistic. FFP achieves its objectives by always basing its approach on research into youth involvement in crime and violence and by engaging young people in the development of services. Also critical to achieving objectives is FFP’s Theory of Change, outlined below. This approach ensures that concrete outcomes are achieved in the lives of young people. Over the 15 years since FFP was founded, key learnings have been codified to be able to adapt the methodology to communities around the world.
FFP’s innovation lies in the fact that it is a research based approach which addresses more than one reason for youth involvement in crime. While many organisations offer sport, education or personal development as separate areas, FFP combines all of these in a methodology which has been proven to be extremely effective. Through “Rede Brasil”, FFP has expanded and consolidated this innovative methodology, and has demonstrated that it can be applied in diverse communities which suffer from high levels of crime and violence.
In the period in question, “Rede Brasil” trained 7 organizations in violent lower-income communities in 6 different Brazilian cities. Through this training, over 6,000 people benefitted from access to FFP’s innovative approach of using B&MA as a tool for personal development. Of those young people surveyed: 100% said they see a more positive future for themselves; 95% felt more confident; 85% felt calmer; 82% said they had stopped getting into trouble; and 72% felt safer in their own community. FFP’s methodology is underpinned by its Theory of Change, which proposes that once a person changes the way they see themselves, they will begin to make concrete positive changes in their lives. One medium term result of these changes is to help break generational cycles of poverty by providing young people with the skills and capabilities to gain formal, sustainable employment.
One of the biggest challenges was to correctly identify organisations which had the appropriate structures and values to adopt FFP’s methodology. Many of the community based organisations (CBOs ) that FFP selected had limited budgets and little experience in programme management before undertaking training: to invest so much money, time and resources into these CBOs was a considerable risk. After selecting the CBOs, one of the main challenges was to ensure that the organisations were adhering to FFP’s methodology (through personal development classes/creation and active use of a Youth Council etc) in the delivery of their services. A further challenge of scaling up FFP’s methodology has been working out how to adapt it to new communities with different dynamics of violence.
The principal lesson learnt is that simply training the CBOs in FFP’s methodology is not enough, no matter how intensive the training. It is fundamental that this training is followed up with regular consultantions which helps CBOs to stay motivated to employ FFP’s methodology throughout all their activities. This consultation also aids the process of adapting the new knowledge to the local community’s needs: FFP has a series of codified learnings from expanding its methodology to other parts of the world. The final lesson is the importance of documenting the progress of each CBO, to allow FFP to draw on these experiences when scaling up in the future.