Mexican and Argentinian youth groups revitalise public spaces to foster sport06 January 2015

YouthmovementsinMexicoandArgentinaarehelpingimprovethelivesoftheircommunitiesby turningabandonedpublicspacesintorecreationalandsportingcentres,fosteringthepracticesportandpromotingintegration.

In Mexico city, the Institute of Youth has recently helped revitalise an abandoned 40 metre length hall in the Churubusco flyover, near the international airport, turning it into a sporting centre.

“The space was abandoned. The idea came up after a similar space in city centre was revitalised. Slight changes were made but it now allows people to practice sport there.” explained Ángel Conto, Co-ordinator of the Youth Institute.

The space, which offers activities free of cost including parkour, Tai Chi, dance classes and Greco-Roman wrestling, has become popular among the local communities and currently offers 13 classes to over 500 youngsters. depor3

The facilities are managed by a group of volunteers, aged between 14-29 years old, with the help of the city council, who recognised the importance of the initiative in fostering the wellbeing of the community and the practice of sport.

Talking about his involvement in the project, Jonathan Pérez, Greco-Roman wrestler for the National University of Mexico (UNAM) and one of the centre’s coaches, said: “I do it because I believe this is good and because I like it, it is my passion, and I really believe that sport can help educate people and make them better citizens.

“I think that Greco-Roman wrestling helps develop physical skills, but also many physiological aspects.”

The initiatives, which ultimately aim to revive the abandoned spaces and and give them back to the communities, are also boosting the active participation of youngsters in the public life.

Youth group brings old club back to live
In the rural area of La Paz, in the Argentinian province of Entre Ríos, a group of young students of the Gabriela Mistral school developed a school project to help revitalise the local youth club Agraria El Porvenir.

Through a nation-wide competition, the school was awarded funding to carry out the project and improve the club’s facilities, which were no longer in use, and turn them into a communal space for practice sport, recreational and cultural activities.

“Our roots do not promote on their own a sense of belonging. We need to give people and families good conditions to live, including housing, work and recreation spaces, for them to stay in the rural areas”, said a representative of  Argentinian Secretary of Agriculture and Family on the project.

© Isabel Avila

© Isabel Avila