Home Institution

New York University

Publication Date

Fall 2005

Program Name

Brazil: Culture, Development, and Social Justice


The harsh struggles and lack of basic necessities, which plague many low-income neighborhoods in Northeastern Brazil negatively impact children’s physical and emotional development. My research follows a 16 year-old boy, Icaro Amorim, who lives in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Fortaleza, Ceara, located in the Northeastern region of Brazil. Despite his hard life where food is never a guarantee, Icaro possesses a social awareness that motivates him to improve the life of his family and his community. This social consciousness is played out in Casa de Cultura, a project which Icaro and his peers started in their community of Bom Jardim. This project addresses the needs of youth in Bom Jardim and motivates these youth to become active, capable members in society. What influenced Icaro to develop such a strong self-identity to help others?

Icaro’s participation at Escola de Danca e Integracao Social para Crianca e Adolescente, EDISCA, a non-governmental organization which offers an alternative arts program to children and adolescents living in favela, or slum communities in Fortaleza, gave Icaro a new lens in which to see and evaluate his life. EDISCA uses the arts in conjunction with social education to provoke and support human development, which is defined by the child’s freedom to create and the opportunity to take control of one’s own life. For Icaro, EDISCA pushed him to develop a social responsibility in which he understood his own life through the context of the larger struggles taking place in both Fortaleza and Brazilian society. This analysis motivated Icaro and his peers to start Casa de Cultura, a project which mimics EDISCA’s values.

Icaro’s actions, along with his peers’, are creating a new society in which the youth and the poor are the transformers responsible for raising a new generation, where helping without an interest and respect are the key values. Icaro’s development and the formation of Casa de Cultura show that today’s youth are capable of successfully bringing about social change to their community and thus, creating a better world for tomorrow.


Politics and Social Change | Social Welfare


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