Personal growth and realising dreams: Matheus’ story

15/04/2020 – Matheus first came across Apadrinhe um Sorriso when he was nine years old. It was on his 17th birthday, however, when the organisation featured on a high profile programme on Brazilian TV, that he became actively involved.

That day, Matheus was playing percussion as part of a performance by what would become Som do Parque, a dance and drama group that brings together young people and puts on annual shows and presentations. Matheus became increasingly involved in the group, expanding his role and developing new and younger members as they joined.

Apadrinhe um Sorriso is a  community based organisation founded in Duque de Caixias, Rio de Janeiro, and a member of the Fight for Peace Alliance.

“Matheus made a lot of progress in the group, as a percussionist and later as an actor and singer,” explains Fabiana Silva, Coordinator of Apadrinhe um Sorriso. “We saw the potential of this young man, and in particular the affinity he had with football, and this led to him transitioning into becoming an instructor at our organisation.”

As his first taste of delivering sessions as a member of staff at Apadrinhe um Sorriso, Matheus coordinated a personal development session for younger members of the organisation. “I really wanted to be part of a social project focused on children and young people as I had never had that when I was younger. I talked to Fabiana and that led to her giving me the responsibility of delivering my first personal development class alone,” says Matheus.

“This was a big motivating factor in me wanting to work in Physical Education. Today I work as a volunteer football instructor at Apadrinhe um Sorriso and this feels like a big goal achieved for me.” Matheus feels that he has devleoped personally and professionally through his involvement at Apadrinhe um Sorriso: “I have gained incredible skills since becoming part of the NGO but I need to highlight some in particular: learning to listen and be heard, teamwork, leadership, empathy, fighting prejudice, and passion for teaching.”

And, as Fabiana points out, Matheus has made a giant contribution to the organisation: “We’ve gained so much in terms of fun and focused sports sessions, research carried out and a dedicated focus on the development of our young people. Matheus’ own progression can be seen through the relationships he has built within our team of staff, the responsibility he has taken on in our work and the determination to contribute to the growth and development of our organisation as a whole. We have gained so much through Matheus’ determination to always give more and give his best.”

For Matheus, sports sessions transcend physical wellbeing, and should lead participants to a place where they can listen, debate, dream and make their contribution to a fairer and more equal society: “Apadrinhe um Sorriso is a place where we actively listen, it’s a place for dreams and dreamers, a place of equality and a place where debate is welcome,” he says.

The Fight for Peace Alliance is a global community of organisations all trained in the Fight for Peace methodology and all working together to realise the potential of young people.