Art uses a language that reaches deep down, where other, more traditional speech can’t reach, and can make a difference in peace and conflict resolution processes. The Challenge “Youth Designing New Realities” organized by Mi Sangre and NEXSO, was conceptualized under that premise. On December 19th, the winners from 120 entries from 10 Latin American and Caribbean countries were announced. “Jóvenes de Guatemala agentes de cohesión social (Young Guatemalan agents of social unity)” from Guatemala won the first prize, “Música Urbana: Escenario para la Convivencia (Urban Music: A Scenatio for Coexistence)” from Colombia won the second prize, and “Lobitos (Young Wolves) Cinema Project” from Peru won the third prize.
For 9 years, Fundación Mi Sangre has been working in Colombia to co-create safe environments for children, teenagers, and young people so they can become aware of their power as peace promoters. Part of its vision focuses on having an impact at a Latin American level by creating networks with organizations supporting culture as the foundation for new ways of coexistence. Said foundation director Catalina Cock, “We found an ideal partner in NEXSO. It was an opportunity to work with a platform capable of helping to identify organizations with innovative ideas, make them visible, and empower them to achieve a broader scale.”
In this case, the focus was geared towards understanding the transformative potential of artistic, playful, creative expression. These transformations imply empathy, one of the values that Cock finds absolutely necessary for preventing violence and building peace. Instead of portrayals of violence and characters who use guns or have easy access to money as “examples to be followed,” an alternative would show leaders performing in theater and movies, painting murals, or composing hip-hop songs.
With the “Youth Designing New Realities” Challenge, NEXSO and Mi Sangre joined efforts towards the social development of Latin America and the Caribbean; from the design of the strategy and the call for action, to the definition of the objectives, criteria, and the evaluation components.
“It was a perfect match. I think it is very interesting that the IDB and the MIF, through NEXSO, are being open to more innovative strategies and initiatives, aiming to raise awareness of initiatives emerging from our communities,, which are quite different from more traditional methodologies or projects,” said Cock, adding that the biggest challenge ahead for the winning initiatives is to think like social businesses, beyond the unique efforts of their causes.
The winning organizations will be provided with technical training to support their financial sustainability, including how to self-promote and publicize their work, and manage social networks and web pages. The first prize winner, “Jóvenes de Guatemala agentes de cohesión social” was also awarded a cash prize of US$ 2,000.
In Cock’s view, art can reach every corner of society and promote the development of multiple intelligences: conflict resolution, teamwork, good communications– all of them key to promoting coexistence and peace. Young people are changing reality through theater, music, literature, and graffiti art. They transform violence into life and tolerance.
“We need to provide a very important space for self-knowledge within the education of children and young people. To be able to relate in a healthy and appropriate way to ourselves and to others is ultimately what makes a community a community, the added value to society,”she says.
Congratulations to the winning initiatives!
(*) Writer and Ambassador of Ashoka Venezuela in New York. He is a lawyer from Universidad Católica Andrés Bello and is currently part of the Creative Writing Master Degree of New York University. Associate Editor of ViceVersa Magazine.