Combat sports for reintegration in Mexico

For our latest blog, we invited our Alliance partners INSADE (Interculturalidad, Salud y Derechos AC) to tell us about their Hecho en Libertad programme and how they are sharing what they learn with others in Fight for Peace’s global community:

“INSADE is a Mexican organisation founded in 2011 which focuses on generating employment reintegration for men and women serving custodial sentences, through an intervention programme called Hecho en Libertad.

Since 2015 we have been working with Fight for Peace through the Fight for Peace Alliance to use combat sport as a tool towards social reintegration for our members. Typically, sports projects in prison are focused on men leaving women often forgotten. This is why we were determined for them to be centre stage in our approach.

For some months now we have been implementing a sports skills project in Mexico City with a reintegration approach for young girls and adult women who are serving sentences at the Santa Martha Acatitla Women’s Social Reinsertion Centre.

For the participants, sport and its inherent lessons and values relating to discipline, teamwork, respect, empathy, non-violent conflict resolution and managing emotions has become an important first step towards reintegration. It is also a space where participants report feeling a sense of escape from their normal routine. One told me that whenever she is taking part in a sports session she forgets where she is and, after the session, she is more able to rest and think clearly.

Many participants also report that as a result of doing combat sports, they are better able to manage their anger, feel more able to think through problems better before reacting negatively and are more able to think about their goals and life plans. Participation also has the practical benefit of helping to reduce the length of their custodial sentences. And once participants graduate in the sports programme, they begin their training process for employment, so that they are equipped to undertake a paid job once they finish their sentence.

For us as an organisation, one of the things that motivates us to be part of the Fight for Peace Alliance, is the opportunity to share our knowledge and in turn have access to experts in other areas through whom we can strengthen our practices. We very much welcome and embrace the opportunity to support the learning of development of fellow youth focused organisations  and this is a big part of our continued membership of the Alliance.”