Twenty-two percent Rio de Janeiro’s population lives in favelas where overcrowding, poor nutrition, pollution, disease and infant mortality are high. Children lack play spaces and access to quality education, and regularly face crime and violence.
Instituto Reação was founded by Olympic medallist Flavio Canto in 2003 in Rocinha, Rio’s biggest favela.
Judo is used to promote human development and social inclusion and enable young people to develop self-discipline, determination, solidarity, healthy nutrition and respect for traditions. Complimentary classroom activities aim to create “black belts” on and off the mat, discussing many important topics such as the environment, gender, health and employment, which are missed in traditional schooling curriculums.
Rafaela Silva, Brazil’s 2016 Judo Olympic gold-medal-winner, was introduced to judo through the programme. Students who excel in both judo and class can be offered full scholarships to university in addition to employability and English classes that the programme is beginning to offer.