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The Social Circus School of Eco-Citizenship in Juazeiro do Norte, Ceará
Founded in 1998, Circo Escola de Ecocidadania (The Social Circus School of Eco-Citizenship ) was formed to contribute to the rescue of citizenship and preservation of the environment aimed to develop research, projects, innovative plans and programs with a focus on general education, environmental education, culture, social development and art, all from a self sustaining development perspective. Circo Escola de Ecocidadania is locatedin a school, Escola de Ensino Fundamental Mestre Pelúsio Correia de Macedo, in a favela with approximately four thousand inhabitants from the city ofJuazeiro do Nortein the state of Ceará. It’s a project within the Instituto de Ecocidadania Juriti (The Institute of Eco-Citizenship of Juriti).
Initially the project was created for children to have an opportunity to play, and work on issues regarding the environment, taking the first steps towards ecological literacy. This plan attracted many people, including teachers, parents and the children themselves. The community was dealing with a reality in need of change: poor education (no computers in school), high drop out rate in school (30% rate), high rate of domestic and urban violence, total misery, lack of public policies in order to disseminate the practical application of the Childreen and Adolescents Statute. Furthermore there is a greatlack of job alternatives for parents‐the majorityof which are unemployed and with less than R$100,00 (US$ 58,00) monthly income; a situation which leads to kids going to the street and begging for money.
Participants are 150 youth from Escola Pelúsio Correia de Macedo, fromto 17 years of age, attending anywhere from first to eighth grade. Most of these kids have to perform small jobs from a very young age in order to add to the family income. As members of the program, these children participate in six circus workshops, internet and computer workshops, production and participation of radio workshops. All live in the Parque Antonio Vieira neighborhood, near a rail line, a very poor area. Families either have jobs outside the formal job sector or are unemployed, have almost no access to sanitation, a health post with a doctor that rarely shows up. High crime and drug trafficking characterize this area. The school is the only aggregation channel, the only place where one gets something to eat and a refuge from the violence of
When students enter the program they may participate in different activities such as social circus, computer classes, recycling and radio. A new successful project of the IEJ is the Projeto Integrado de Liberdade Assistida PILA (Integration of Liberty and Assistance Project) which follows youth that are in an assisted freedom regime. The institute developed a renewable methodology to support this group, supported by UNICEF that is now being studied in order to be adopted as a public policy in consolidation with the Human Rights National Plan.
Today this project supports 26 adolescents and their respective families, recommended by the Child and Youth section of the public council. In most of the cases, these families, led by the matriarch, take part in a solidarity production experience, the GAF - Grupo de Apoio a Família (Family Support Group), which aims to provide them economic means.
In 2003 Dreams Brasil supported the IEJ with R$ 10.000 (US$ 5,882) to buy circus equipment.
In 2004 Dreams Brasil supported the IEJ with R$ 20.000 (US$ 11,764) to build monocycles, allowing the institution to start its own sustainable process because the monocycles they build are sold or donated to other social circus projects.
In 2005 Dreams Brasil started a new support to the IEJ until October 2006, with the amount of R$ 15.000 (US$ 8,823) to buy material for presentations and classes.
In 2007 Dreams Brasil donated R$8.000 (US$ 4,705) for the construction of the first part of the headquarters of the Social Circus School of Eco-Citizenship.