SPAIN: Salesian Day Centers Provide Education, Sports and Language Skills to Youth After School
(MissionNewswire) The Salesian-run Ángel Tomás Foundation in Spain operates programs for children and families at risk who need extra assistance during the school year. Currently the foundation supports 13 social educational programs, which are facilitated by 213 volunteers and staff. The programs assist 659 people. In the port cities of Valencia and Cartagena, on Spain’s southeastern coast, Salesian missionaries operate day centers. In Valencia, the programs are focused on sports education and in Cartagena on language-learning projects.
The Salesian day center in Valencia provides sports programs after school to keep youth engaged and out of trouble. The program attracts youth who have no place to go after the school day ends. There is time for them to do homework, socialize with their peers, and engage in courses in basketball, football, cycling and more. Youth have an opportunity to work on their individual skills as well as be a part of a team learning important lessons about conflict management and communication.
“Sports programs teach youth both on and off the field,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Learning and playing team sports encourages leadership skills as well as teaches youth to work as part of a team. Students also learn important social skills and have opportunities for growth and maturity.”
In Cartagena, Salesian missionaries are targeting children and families who may be new to the country to help teach them the Spanish language so they can integrate more smoothly into their new environments. These language lessons help parents be better prepared for employment and children ready for school. The program has also started a toy library as well as other social development activities to help these families assimilate and feel more comfortable in their new country.
Ensuring that families remain engaged in their children’s educational development, all of the Salesian day centers across Spain are offering training and supportive programs for parents and family members. These training programs provide a platform for discussion and skills training to help families assist their children in school and open up effective dialogue within the family unit and with their children.
Spain, which has been hit hard by the current economic troubles in Europe, now has the greatest inequality of the 27 countries of the European Union. According to the World Bank, close to 25 percent of Spanish workers are unemployed and a growing number of them can’t afford to buy enough food to live. One in five citizens are living below the poverty line. Poor youth with too few employable skills struggle the most to find and retain stable employment.
Salesian missionaries in Spain have been working for many years to provide educational and workforce development opportunities for poor youth and women through residential and technical and vocational training programs.
“Salesian programs have always grown and adapted to best fit the needs of the communities in which they serve whether through education, technical training or social development programs that help youth gain the confidence, strength and perseverance to set goals in life and achieve them,” adds Fr. Hyde.
World Bank – Spain