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Out-of-School program in Juarez is keeping kids engaged and safe

November 15, 2017

More than 800 Juárez youth have participated in out-of-school programming offered by Organización Popular Independiente (OPI) over the past three years, and now the Juárez-based organization is looking to engage even more kids with support from the Paso del Norte Health Foundation.

The Health Foundation, under its IGNITE Initiative, is providing funding and data to help OPI improve its programming and determine where to focus its growth. IGNITE works to improve a range of health outcomes by engaging disconnected youth across the border region with high-quality programs during out-of-school hours. Opi crop “OPI provides training on specific subjects to all of our program staff, like how to engage children and youth and how to prevent violence among young people, with an emphasis on human and children’s rights,” says Daniela Almada of OPI. Opi crop 2 Last year, the IGNITE team mapped the locations of out-of-school programs available across the Juárez region and found a big need to engage disconnected youth in the core of Juárez and neighborhoods in the west.

OPI, with its history of providing quality out-of-school programming at eight locations in west Juárez, was awarded funding to provide out-of-school activities to 400 youth through 738 hours of cultural activities, 984 hours of artistic, musical and recreational activities, and 2,025 hours of sports activities. Almada said soccer, and sports in general, is one of the most popular and effective activities that OPI facilitates to connect and communicate with youth in Juárez. Opi crop 4 As it increases youth participation, OPI is also focused on building greater sustainability for its programs. “We’re hoping to make an impact on public policy and making a case that out-of-school programs should become a governmental responsibility,” said Almada.

To learn more about the IGNITE Initiative, visit www.pdnhf.org or contact Bianca De León, Associate Program Officer for the Paso del Norte Health Foundation at 915-218-2623 or bdeleon@pdnhf.org.

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