Peace Champions in Mexico City

23/11/2015 – Fight for Peace Programme Trainer, Seth Reynolds, details the work being done in Mexico by our eight Global Alumni Programme partners:

Mexico may have become well known for its drug wars and gangsters, but in Mexico City, eight Global Alumni partners have been fighting for peace in communities under siege from crime and violence.

In the north of the City, Barrio Activo have begun capoeira and kickboxing activities in an open air community space; just outside the city boundaries, Utopia A.C. have started using Tae Kwon Do to build resilience and values in young people whose families make a living from picking and recycling waste from a municipal waste dump; in the far west of the city, Juan Gutierrez has started a new programme using the martial art of Lima-Lama to get young people off the street and into personal development and educational activities.

In addition, The Women’s Project have trained boxing and Muay Thai instructors from all over the city in how to use combat sports to create safe spaces for young people to discuss and work on the tough issues affecting their daily lives.

Meanwhile, in the east of the city, TRASO A.C. (Social Transformation A.C.) have launched their new project, CAPAZ: Campeones de la Paz (Champions for Peace), joining forces with a local community boxing gym, Club Lupita, that has a 50-year heritage and has produced many Mexican champions.

The programme was designed by TRASO following the participation of their Coordinator, Hector Colin Castro, in the GAP training course in Rio in April. By the time CAPAZ launched in September of this year, it was already oversubscribed and with a long waiting list. At CAPAZ (which translates as “capable” in English), 30 young children aged 7-10 receive twice weekly boxing sessions, a weekly group ‘play therapy’ session, and a weekly session designed to develop and strengthen values.

A key aim of the programme is to strengthen the family unit, as parents’ lack of involvement in children’s lives is one of the key risk factors for youth involvement in gangs and crime. Therefore a requirement for being part of CAPAZ is that the parents attend fortnightly parents sessions, in which they learn parenting skills and get feedback on the progress of their children.

Explaining the programme’s philosophy, Hector said:

“As with all of TRASO’s projects, CAPAZ places the family in at the centre of its mission. We understand that to be a champion, you have to work in a team, and there is no better team than the family”.

Parents are already noticing the impact that the training is having on their children, who are all referred to as Champions from the moment they join the programme:

“My son arrives tired from his training and it is helping him be more disciplined”, says mother Liliana Pérez Olguín.

The project is currently being piloted while funds are sought to secure its activities in the long term. With the combination of professional boxing coaches, professional psychologists, and the support of Fight for Peace, Hector believes CAPAZ has huge potential to positively impact the lives of young Mexicans:

“We are sure that with this holistic programme we can help develop emotionally and mentally resilient young people, capable of staying firm against any kind of violence: girls and boys with sporting discipline, a decrease in school drop-out and stronger, better integrated families. Enthusiasm is stronger than apathy, and we are confident this project can grow to have impact not only in our local area but also throughout Mexican society”, Hector says.