CLÉSIO SABINO AND CAROL FERIGOLLI ASSOCIAÇÃO
When Associação Bem Comum (Common Good Association) was founded in 2003, the goal was to promote social inclusion in public universities by assigning grants to low-income and mostly black students from public schools to attend private preparatory schools in São Paulo. At the same time, experiential education methods were being implemented, with teenagers experiencing cultural immersions all over the city. This aspect eventually led Bem Comum to focus solely on expanding these young ones’ social and cultural repertoire, with expeditions through their own urban space. But according to educator and president of the association Clésio Sabino, it is when Carol Ferigolli (head of education projects and psychopedagogue) joins the crew, in 2016, that things really shift – and this time, in a definitive and conscientious direction.
Their focus lasers in on boys and girls from youth shelters. At first, from ages 13 to 17, the aim was to prepare these kids for adult life after they turn 18 and have to leave the government shelters. But they soon realized that it was a bit late, for many of them remained illiterate up to 15 or 16. So, once again, like a Darwinian chameleon, the association adapted and adjusted and settled with the age group of 10 to 17. “This enabled them to properly learn to read and write, sometimes at an incredible speed, and also to acquire the basic fundaments of everyday math, while adding in the experiential education as well”, sums up Ferigolli. “We’ve had very positive results, even though these kids are extremely stigmatized and sometimes display very violent behavior.”
Financially challenged for a couple of years now, the association once again adapted, adjusted, and, according to Ferigolli, the Fellowship Program at Avenues São Paulo came just in time to aid them in their latest transition, one in which learning the ropes of management became an imperative. “It was most gratifying for us to join the group when we were so discredited. And through our shared experiences, we realized that the challenges are more-or-less the same for everyone in the third sector”, adds Sabino. Avenues students were invited to visit the association before social isolation was imposed, and the effects of this experience are still rippling across the surface. With quarantine, the teenagers have been isolated at the shelters, and a group of 15 Avenues’ 7th and 8th year girls are tutoring their newly acquired friends online. The kids from both sides of the divide are bridging not only two schools, but two worlds – and proving that this is not only a possibility, but a necessity. For everyone.