Brazilian Armed Forces Help At-Risk Children Through Forces in Sports

Brazilian Armed Forces Help At-Risk Children Through Forces in Sports

By Dialogo
November 18, 2014






Like a miniature military unit, the boys and girls march in formation, their arms extended before them, eyes fixed on Brazilian Army Staff Sgt. Angelo de Alvarenga Reis Perini.

“At ease,” he says. Perini, 32, is attached to the Third Supply Battalion under the Military Southern Command (CMS).

The boys and girls, all between the ages of 11 and 16, step out of formation. They’re from the outskirts of Nova Santa Rita, a town 30 km away from the State of Rio Grande do Sul’s capital – and they haven’t come to learn military drills. These at-risk students are there to have fun, and learn the value of structure, education, and teamwork, through the Forces in Sports Project (Profesp).

Profesp, which involves 110 military units throughout Brazil, is a partnership between the Ministry of Defense and the Segundo Tempo Program, under the Ministry of Sports. The initiative ties together sports, nutrition, and educational instruction. The youngsters are coached and mentored by military personnel from 67 Army units, 22 Air Force units, and 21 Naval units.

“One unit sees what another is doing, learns that it’s Forces in Sports and decides to join,” said Capt. José Ferreira de Barros, the initiative’s national coordinator on the Defense Ministry side.

In 2014, about 15,000 students participated in the program.

“The project began with a test group in 2003 with 450 children, and it has grown every year since then,” Barros said. “We want to reach 20,000 by 2016.”

The Armed Forces’ involvement in the program has built a rapport between the military and the neighborhoods where young people participate in Profesp. The initiative also contributes to public safety.

“We are helping reduce violence in many areas by bringing children into this project,” Barros said. “When many of the children come to us, they have poor self-control and are disorganized, because they come from broken families.”

In 2014, the Ministry of Sports allocated almost US$ 6.16 million (USD) to the program. The budget includes salaries for teachers and interns in physical education to lead activities, as well improvements to athletic fields and equipment.

Soccer and cook-outs


Sports is a key component of the initiative. For example, at Nova Santa Rita’s Morretes neighborhood, the students play soccer (both outdoors and indoors), volleyball, and basketball.

The program provides two meals a day to the participants, and on Thursdays, there is a celebration for the children with a cook-out and chocolate cake. Young people love the sports and other activities.

“I wanted to come here Monday to Friday. If I stay at home, I’ll only sleep,” said 12 year-old Ildefonso Somoskovis Schaeffer.

Military personnel observe the monthly progress of the youngsters in the program. The combination of physical activities, mentoring, and healthy meals helps improve the students’ development and increases their attention spans.

“Their grades at school improve and we watch out so their grades don’t go down,” said Perini.

Profesp instructor Jaqueline Rossato helps monitor students’ performance at the program and at school. “They really appreciate everything they have here, because they have so little in their lives and they don’t want to lose anything,” said Rossato, who has been working with the project since 2010.

Inspired by the military


Some children, like Andrei Souza de Jesus, 11, also appreciate the careers that the Armed Forces offer. The boy talked of wanting to join the military.

“That way, I can participate in operations and see new places,” Jesus said.

The military members who participate in Profesp do not recruit youngsters or anyone else. Their focus is to mentor students and introduce them to good civic values.

While the military members in Profesp do not recruit students, there is a path available for youngsters who are interested in military careers.

At the Afonsos Air Base in Rio de Janeiro, Project Colibri joined with Forces in Sports in 2010. That project provides physical activities and educational programs for youngsters between the ages of 13 and 15 who are interested in competing for spots in the military academies, such as the Air Cadet Training School (Epcar) and the Naval Academy.

The program, which lasts 19 months, has 200 openings every year.

“We are looking more for at-risk adolescents,” said Chaplin Captain Marcelo da Silva Lessa, the project coordinator at Afonsos. “We are working under the idea that they are small and fragile but they can do their part.”

When they arrive at the air base, some students are not in great physical condition, because of poor nutrition and inadequate exercise.

“The first steps include a nutritionist and help with schoolwork,” Lessa said.

The routine is demanding, with sessions from Monday through Saturday, which includes sports, classes in nine academic areas, and the basic concepts of military life.

“It’s really great to see how dedicated these children are. It’s become a routine for us to have our Colibri students win second and third places entering the military academies,” Lessa bragged.





Like a miniature military unit, the boys and girls march in formation, their arms extended before them, eyes fixed on Brazilian Army Staff Sgt. Angelo de Alvarenga Reis Perini.

“At ease,” he says. Perini, 32, is attached to the Third Supply Battalion under the Military Southern Command (CMS).

The boys and girls, all between the ages of 11 and 16, step out of formation. They’re from the outskirts of Nova Santa Rita, a town 30 km away from the State of Rio Grande do Sul’s capital – and they haven’t come to learn military drills. These at-risk students are there to have fun, and learn the value of structure, education, and teamwork, through the Forces in Sports Project (Profesp).

Profesp, which involves 110 military units throughout Brazil, is a partnership between the Ministry of Defense and the Segundo Tempo Program, under the Ministry of Sports. The initiative ties together sports, nutrition, and educational instruction. The youngsters are coached and mentored by military personnel from 67 Army units, 22 Air Force units, and 21 Naval units.

“One unit sees what another is doing, learns that it’s Forces in Sports and decides to join,” said Capt. José Ferreira de Barros, the initiative’s national coordinator on the Defense Ministry side.

In 2014, about 15,000 students participated in the program.

“The project began with a test group in 2003 with 450 children, and it has grown every year since then,” Barros said. “We want to reach 20,000 by 2016.”

The Armed Forces’ involvement in the program has built a rapport between the military and the neighborhoods where young people participate in Profesp. The initiative also contributes to public safety.

“We are helping reduce violence in many areas by bringing children into this project,” Barros said. “When many of the children come to us, they have poor self-control and are disorganized, because they come from broken families.”

In 2014, the Ministry of Sports allocated almost US$ 6.16 million (USD) to the program. The budget includes salaries for teachers and interns in physical education to lead activities, as well improvements to athletic fields and equipment.

Soccer and cook-outs


Sports is a key component of the initiative. For example, at Nova Santa Rita’s Morretes neighborhood, the students play soccer (both outdoors and indoors), volleyball, and basketball.

The program provides two meals a day to the participants, and on Thursdays, there is a celebration for the children with a cook-out and chocolate cake. Young people love the sports and other activities.

“I wanted to come here Monday to Friday. If I stay at home, I’ll only sleep,” said 12 year-old Ildefonso Somoskovis Schaeffer.

Military personnel observe the monthly progress of the youngsters in the program. The combination of physical activities, mentoring, and healthy meals helps improve the students’ development and increases their attention spans.

“Their grades at school improve and we watch out so their grades don’t go down,” said Perini.

Profesp instructor Jaqueline Rossato helps monitor students’ performance at the program and at school. “They really appreciate everything they have here, because they have so little in their lives and they don’t want to lose anything,” said Rossato, who has been working with the project since 2010.

Inspired by the military


Some children, like Andrei Souza de Jesus, 11, also appreciate the careers that the Armed Forces offer. The boy talked of wanting to join the military.

“That way, I can participate in operations and see new places,” Jesus said.

The military members who participate in Profesp do not recruit youngsters or anyone else. Their focus is to mentor students and introduce them to good civic values.

While the military members in Profesp do not recruit students, there is a path available for youngsters who are interested in military careers.

At the Afonsos Air Base in Rio de Janeiro, Project Colibri joined with Forces in Sports in 2010. That project provides physical activities and educational programs for youngsters between the ages of 13 and 15 who are interested in competing for spots in the military academies, such as the Air Cadet Training School (Epcar) and the Naval Academy.

The program, which lasts 19 months, has 200 openings every year.

“We are looking more for at-risk adolescents,” said Chaplin Captain Marcelo da Silva Lessa, the project coordinator at Afonsos. “We are working under the idea that they are small and fragile but they can do their part.”

When they arrive at the air base, some students are not in great physical condition, because of poor nutrition and inadequate exercise.

“The first steps include a nutritionist and help with schoolwork,” Lessa said.

The routine is demanding, with sessions from Monday through Saturday, which includes sports, classes in nine academic areas, and the basic concepts of military life.

“It’s really great to see how dedicated these children are. It’s become a routine for us to have our Colibri students win second and third places entering the military academies,” Lessa bragged.
It is satisfying to appreciate the Armed Forces of Brazil expanding their actions in defense of new generations, who today are threatened and at risk of a uncertain future by the influence of market greed from drug trafficking and moral degradation. The Brazilian example is excellent for friendly nations and must be disseminated by the U.S. Southern Command, Ney de Araripe Sucupira - Deputy Chief of the Graduates Association of the War College in the state of São Paulo, Brazil.
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