Monday, October 3, 2011

Supporting at-risk youth in Rio's Rocinha favela community

There was a time when opportunities were scarce in Rio’s Rocinha favela community. Actually, those times persist. Rocinha is the largest favela in Rio, with more than 300,000 poor residents clinging to the steep hillsides between Zona Sul and Barra de Tijuca. While living conditions have improved for some of its residents over the past 30 years, opportunities for its youth have barely budged.

But people like Zezinho and Lea are making a dent in those troubles. They are creating real opportunities for at-risk youth in the community. They are planting seeds that will surely grow into life-changing opportunities for young residents.

Let me tell you about a new, grass roots, social program and its benefits – and how you can be a part of the change that is happening. I am asking for your help.

Rocinha Media School is a new non-profit organization in Rocinha that focuses its efforts on at-risk youth and includes a program: Spin Rocinha, which teaches professional DJ skills so young people can acquire the pride and ability to take on a profession – without having to resort to street economics to survive. You can learn much more about the Rocinha Media School here.

The training is top notch. The equipment is top notch. The mentoring is all you could ask for. And the students are thrilled. There has been immediate interest among residents to participate.

Using state of the art equipment plus local and international DJs, Spin Rocinha attracted 10 students (full capacity) to its first class who are committed to learning the art of DJing and to lifting their eyes to the possibilities of the future. Music – listening to music, playing music, spinning music – it is a powerful personal and cultural force in this community. It is a lifeline.

And of course we need your help as we toss that lifeline to at-risk youth in the community. While much of the equipment has been donated, there is more needed. The school is looking to buy an iPad. They need US$900. Without getting too far into the weeds, the iPad is a big step forward in technology because:

1. It means they can be mobile - it does what a big clunky unit (2 x cdjs and a mixer) does so they can take the classes out to the youth in the community.

2. It is where the technology is evolving to.

3. It acts as an MPC (which is another tool that DJs use) - and also replaces a big clunky piece of equipment that way.

4. It allows them to upload and store all the media (music) on it so it also helps that they don't have to lug thousands of cds around.

5. It plugs straight into self-powered speakers or an amp eliminating the need for a big mixer.

6. They won't have to worry about secure space to store large equipment.

7. It runs off batteries so they won't need to worry about accessing power, which can be a problem when needing to find a place with reliable power and the several outlets needed with all the other equipment that needs to be plugged in.

8. Mobility allows them to play gigs out in the public without any worries about transportation or set up.

So if we REALLY want to make a tremendous impact/contribution to their efforts, this is the opportunity. This is the piece of equipment that will move them out of the studio (where they have the clunky – ‘though state of the art – DJ equipment), into the community, where the youth can practice and show off their newly learned skills. (Receiving the praise from others to spur them on.)

It’s often difficult to know how one can help address the endemic problems of inequality, lack of opportunity and youth hopelessness in Rio’s favela communities. If you want to help make a real difference in the lives of some of these youth, this is an opportunity.

Rocinha Media School is a local and internationally supported organization that could use your help.
You can make a financial contribution by visiting the donate page on Rocinha Media School’s website.

Please, join me in supporting at-risk youth looking for opportunities to change their lives. Click on the link, make a donation, and make a difference. If not us, then who? We can do this.

Thank you!

[Note to fellow bloggers and folks on Facebook – please consider doing us the great favor of linking to this post or reposting this appeal AND (very important) offering your personal endorsement of me as an honest guy, and Rocinha as a place that needs our support. There is power in numbers. The young people in Rocinha need our help. This is a chance to do an act of kindness that may change a life – and likely save a life.]

Here is a brief video (in Portuguese) of Spin Rocinha's premiere class.


Nina said...

Hey Jim, is this an on going thing? Ricardo and I are in the final process of buying a new car. Well as in new to us. I was wondering if November would be ok?

Jim said...

The intention is for the school to be ongoing and help hundreds of youth. Feel free to support their efforts at any time! Thank you for your support.

We will promote this campaign for several weeks, for sure.

Gina said...

This is a great idea - you can count me in!

Jim said...

Thanks Gina!

Nina said...


Val said...

Hi Jim!

I too will be donating in November. It wont be much but I do want to help out...

Talk to you soon!


Jim said...


sam said...

Helping our at-risk youth through programs will surely keep them of the road of trouble and walk to a new road of peace. There are many foundations, communities and schools that offer special programs to at-risk youths.

Prof. Jake said...

Ola Lea& Jim,

I am doing research on experiential education/ESL aquisition and Brazilian at risk youth. Please call or email me. US # 209-470-5175; email;