Home Institution

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Publication Date

Spring 2012

Program Name

Brazil: Social Justice and Sustainable Development


The Instituto Povo do Mar (or IPOM) seeks to improve the lives of children in the favela of Serviluz through experiential education, providing classes in music, art, yoga, surfing, and other subjects. Previous studies have shown how surfing programs can provide immense psychological benefits for children who are at risk for trauma because of their impoverished environments, and the other classes that IPOM offers also give structural support to community children in various ways. In addition to the direct benefits that Serviluz children receive from these programs, IPOM also has a broader social justice goal in mind. The organization sees the education of children as a way to help the community as a whole and begin a small-scale social transformation. For my ISP, I seek to investigate the link between the psychological benefits for individual program participants and community development and empowerment for Serviluz as a whole. How do the clear psychological benefits for children contribute to social transformation? To answer this question, I conducted ethnographical interviews with program participants, the parents of program participants, and community leaders, as well as utilizing first-hand observations of IPOM classes and life in Serviluz outside of IPOM. The results of this study indicate that IPOM works closely with other non-profit organizations to foster capacity development, participation, and community pride within Serviluz, all of which contribute to an ongoing process of empowerment on the level of the individual and of the community.


Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Disability and Equity in Education | Educational Sociology | Family, Life Course, and Society


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