Fighting for Peace with an Olympic Spirit on the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace

IOC 2016
Today is the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP) – a celebration of the power of sport to drive social change, unite people and promote a culture of peace! On this occasion, three young Cariocas from a favela in Rio de Janeiro show us how sport, the Fight for Peace organisation and the Olympic Games being in their home city this August are inspiring them to become champions in life.

Every day, everywhere around the world, organisations and individuals are using sport as a tool to improve education and health, to promote social inclusion and gender equality, and to foster reconciliation. Fight for Peace is one of them. A recipient of an International Olympic Committee (IOC) Sport for All Award and grant in 2013, this non-governmental organisation was founded in 2000 and is located in the favelas (Maré) in Rio – the host city of the 2016 Olympic Games. In partnership with the Brazilian Olympic Committee, the IOC supports Fight for Peace’s Maré Academy through its “Community Champions” project. Using combat sports and the Olympic values, this project promotes the development of young people and coaches in communities affected by crime, violence and social exclusion.

“I was always very explosive,” says Maria Do Socorro De Melo. “I would defend myself by being aggressive.” A beneficiary of the programme for two years, Maria has since learnt to control herself and feel calmer. “I think that we should promote peace every day. You feel the difference of being at peace, of not having to wake up every day, thinking about how to harm someone or thinking that someone’s going to harm you.”

For 18-year-old judoka Keyla Rosa, Fight for Peace has become “like a second home”. From being expelled from school to being one of the centre’s pupils for the last four years, Keyla has gained a new perspective on life and is taking positive steps towards a better future.

The hosting of the Olympic Games in Rio in a few months is also proving to be a source of inspiration for the Cariocas. After finding new confidence thanks to boxing, Jarde Lopes Da Silva says the Games are “generating hope in young people in this neighbourhood” and believes they can create “a positive legacy for the culture of sport, which is a wonderful art, which can save lots of people and which, I believe, deserves to be encouraged a bit more.”

“The Olympics were a great gift for us,” comments Ana Caroline Belo, coordinator at Fight for Peace. “There's the Olympic spirit, which brings the idea of unity and strength. Sport can change a pupil's reality, especially in a poor neighbourhood like Maré.”

Watch here how Cariocas are fighting for peace.

Fight for Peace at the Games and beyond

Among those chosen to carry the Olympic torch ahead of the Games in Rio is Fight for Peace’s very own judo athlete, Raissa Souza de Lima. Motivated by the struggles she faced in life, Raissa decided to learn to fight. Since joining Fight for Peace, she has come a long way, learning to embrace new values and attitudes as a judoka. She now assists in judo classes, contributing daily to the development of dozens of young people.

Projects implemented by Fight for Peace will leave a social legacy of the Games for Rio de Janeiro, long after the Olympic flame is extinguished. Its reach also goes beyond Brazil. Through a global network, Fight for Peace now offers training to organisations in 25 countries around the world - transferring the knowledge and experience gained in the favela of Maré. By the end of 2015, a total of 132 partner organisations had received training, extending Fight for Peace’s global reach to more than 250,000 young people.

Learn more about Fight for Peace here.

The Games have the power to promote solidarity and tolerance not only among fans, the local community in Rio and sports fans all over the world, but also among the participants. For the duration of the Games, the Olympic Village will once again embody tolerance and solidarity in its purest form, as athletes from all 206 National Olympic Committees live together in harmony, sending an unequivocal message of peace to the world.

Alongside the Fight for Peace project and on the occasion of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, the IOC has also showcased an inspiring project fostering peace and unity through sport in Rwanda.

You can watch all the stories here:

Stay tuned, and join the movement at #sport4betterworld!

For more on the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, check out:

Learn more about the IOC’s action on the ground here.

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