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PORTUGAL: Circus skills motivate youth

SolSal facilitates projects that help youth to develop employable skills

(MissionNewswire) Since its foundation in 2019, Social Service of the Salesians (SolSal), located in Porto, Portugal, has focused on the creation of training and employment opportunities for youth who are not involved in education, employment or vocational training. One of SolSal’s current projects is the Electric Circus, inspired by St. John Bosco, who used circus techniques to motivate youth to dream and create the futures they wanted.

The project, which started in May 2022 and continues until July 2023, is training 30 youth ages 18-30 from the municipalities of Porto and Gondomar. Youth take part in weekly workshops on personal and social skills, employability, and circus arts, focusing on personal development. In addition to the workshops, the project also provides individual psychosocial support and skill-building workshops for families and companies.

The Electric Circus is the result of a collaboration among SolSal with support from Rio Tinto’s Soutelo Social Center, Erva Daninha Company and the Salesian Foundation. The project receives funding from EEA Grants Active Citizens Fund program for the social empowerment of vulnerable groups and the support of the consortium made up of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the Bissaya Barreto Foundation, which runs the program in Portugal.

“This is a unique project used to engage youth in skill building,” said Father Timothy Ploch, the interim director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Youth are empowered to learn new skills, gain confidence and tap into their talents while engaging with peers and learning from trusted adults. The goal is to engage youth in a way that’s fun while helping them explore employable skills for their future.”

SolSal also launched a new project with the Soutelo Social Center and Erva Daninha Company in October 2022. The Q-CIRCO project was established to help bridge the gap between skills training and employment for youth at Santo António Educational Center in Porto and the Areosa Rehabilitation Center. The project will run until 2025 and is receiving support from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the La Caixa Foundation through the PARTIS & Art for Change initiative.

According to the World Bank there are close to 2.6 million people living below the poverty line in Portugal, 487,000 of whom are under the age of 18. The country is one of the most unequal countries in Europe as far as wealth distribution. Wealthy citizens earn five times the rate of income than those living in poverty.

Unemployment and low incomes are two of the factors that contribute to unequal wealth distribution. Portugal has a low hourly rate for workers in comparison to other countries in Europe. Many parents have to work multiple jobs, which leaves less time at home with their families and children. This leaves children without the proper guidance at home leading to behavior problems and lack of preparedness for school, including getting homework done and eating breakfast before coming to school.



ANS Photo (usage permissions and guidelines must be requested from ANS)

ANS – Portugal – Widespread collaboration, in the name of Don Bosco, for NEET youth on social reintegration paths

Salesian Missions

World Bank – Portugal

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