Ensuring that youth stay active and engaged in Ciudad Juárez

April 24, 2018

FEMAP has three simple and effective messages that guide its work with the youth of Ciudad Juárez: Education is important, develop your potential and do not stop learning, and watch your health.

“Every child is unique,” says María Eugenia Parra López, program coordinator for FEMAP, as she discusses FEMAP’s efforts to recruit 100 new youth for out-of-school programs through funding provided by the Paso del Norte Health Foundation. FEMAP is a grantee of the Health Foundation’s IGNITE initiative. Its past efforts brought 350 disconnected youth into FEMAP programming and now, with its latest round of funding, is focused both on growing the number of youth involved and ensuring that the youth stay active with the programs. “We know that this stage is of paramount importance to acquire positive experiences and develop skills which will mark their lives,” López said. “Open spaces where young people can feel safe, where they coexist in a healthy environment and learn to resolve their differences through dialogue, will contribute greatly to creating healthy and harmonious communities where violence is a thing of the past.” The goal of IGNITE is to improve a range of health outcomes by engaging disconnected youth in high-quality programs during out-of-school hours. FEMAP’s efforts in Juárez help provide evidence that youth growing up in cities that have experienced significant violence can be aided by programs offered when kids are not in school. “Working with the Paso del Norte Health Foundation has been of great importance for the fulfillment of the mission of the organization,” says López. “Their initiatives, which consider a time of maturation and strengthening the capacity of the organization, allow us to develop effective and replicable models.”

FEMAP’s work in south Ciudad Juárez is of particular importance. Four years ago, it began working in the community of Urbi Villa del Campo to engage youth through workshops, a homework and reading center, and through sports and art clubs during the summer.

“Experience has taught us that the emphasis should be placed on prevention and not in the care of the effects,” López said. “So the organization has developed intervention models that promote safe environments and support for children and youth after school, where in addition to developing their skills and talents have the accompaniments of adults with whom they can talk about their problems or concerns.”

To learn more about the IGNITE Initiative, click here.

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