MEXICO: New Cultural Space Opens for At-Risk Youth
(MissionNewswire) The Corner was opened in December in Lupita Oratory (Youth Center), one of three Salesian Youth Centers in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. The Corner is a cultural space designed to meet the needs of teens and older youth by providing a meeting space in a peaceful atmosphere. This new program is part of the Don Bosco Cultural Corridor Project.
In the neighborhoods of Ciudad Juárez, a city usually marred by violence, there is a lack of safe socio-cultural alternatives and spaces for young people. The Salesian community committed itself to provide more services and spaces for youth and developed the Don Bosco Cultural Corridor initiative.
This initiative offers cultural programs to youth to assist them in avoiding the dangerous violence that has spread around the city. It also provides them a safe place to gather while expanding their education in culture and the arts. The Cultural Corridor includes an art gallery, an open space for concerts and artistic activities and a library. All of the activities are organized and run by the youth center members themselves.
“Youth need environments where they can feel safe,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “In a city, branded as violent and chaotic, the Salesian work reveals that there are many youth who are full of dreams, talents and high hopes for a productive and happy future, free from violence.”
According to the World Bank, there are 52 million people living in poverty in Mexico, approximately 45 percent of the country’s population. The Salesians in Mexico primarily direct their efforts toward the country’s at-risk youth, including girls and young mothers who face severe dangers on the streets.
Innovative programs are preventing poor children from dropping out of school and are providing important opportunities to keep them on the right track. At-risk children take part in programs that integrate education, social activities and technical training. The goal is to guide youth back into mainstream education so that they can reach their full potential.
Early this year, Cinema Bosco was opened to provide entertainment, an educational aid for local schools and a place for film shows and festivals. In other local spaces, there is a cyber-digital club; a room with Board Games; a second-hand clothing shop with affordable prices; a multi-purpose gym.
Most recently, the Lupita Oratory had one of its buildings restructured and reorganized in order to create new space for various purposes, including The Corner. Local youth assisted in the work of rebuilding and designing the new space by creating murals and other decorations.
About 400 people attended the opening of The Corner at Lupita Oratory. Festivities were held which included an orchestra, a children’s play, games for teenagers, a show of circus arts and pantomimes and a string quartet.
At the same time in the Don Bosco Oratory, located in another part of the city, a skating competition took place in a recently opened public park.
The Salesians began their work on the frontier between Mexico and the United States in 1991. On its 20th anniversary, programs were initiated to address the new realities of violence and the disintegration of the social framework, which directly affects many adolescents and youth in the city. The Salesians in these communities continue to provide education, safety and the promise of a better future for youth in need.
Salesian Missions – Mexico
World Bank – Mexico