URUGUAY: Salesian Youth Center in Salto celebrates 25 years of providing youth programs
(MissionNewswire) The Salesian Youth Center in Salto, Uruguay, celebrated its 25th anniversary on Oct. 1. Since its inception, the center has transformed the lives of vulnerable youth. Today, 97 youth between 12 and 18 take part in activities at the Salesian Youth Center. They are supported by the 19 Salesian staff and volunteers who operate programs and assist youth with educational initiatives to help them learn and grow.
The Salesian Youth Center offers vocational training through woodworking and metal workshops, as well as cooking classes focusing on regional cuisine. There is socio-educational space for group learning activities and a space for recreation and sports where youth can engage with their peers. The center also assists families to help them understand how best to support youth at home to focus and continue their education.
“Salesians have been working with youth in Uruguay for many years, providing educational and social development opportunities to help them break the cycle of poverty and lead productive lives,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “In addition to educating youth, Salesians in Uruguay focus on crime prevention by working to keep youth off the streets and engaged in productive activities. These activities focus on education and skill development giving youth better coping skills so they can be more connected to their communities and deterred from criminal activity.”
Uruguay has managed to decrease its poverty rate by almost half since 2007. Today, the poverty rate is close to 10 percent with the majority of poor residents concentrated in rural towns and villages.
Most rural citizens in the country do not have the financial resources or education and training necessary to find and maintain stable employment. Running a profitable business venture or maintaining a small farm with access to the national and international markets is increasingly competitive and remains largely out of reach, especially in households run by women alone. The majority of rural poor are those most often engaged in non-agricultural activities.
In addition to a lack of education and employment opportunities, access to affordable housing is a concern for many poor families in Uruguay. Many do not have the resources to purchase homes or land to build on, and schools are often so far away children cannot attend.
Youth crime is on the rise in the country. More than 35 percent of crime committed by adolescents can be traced back to a lack of educational opportunities and employment inequality, according to a recent study by the Center for the Study of Economic and Social Reality. The report also noted that crime rates among young people in Uruguay have doubled over the past 15 years and the rate of violent assaults has quadrupled.
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Salesian Missions – Uruguay
World Bank – Uruguay