At-risk children learn about their human rights at summer camp

Children from the town of Alto Hospicio (North) who were participants in the summer camp on children’s rights.

For many kids summer camp is a place to go to escape. For some kids in Chile, the Laura Vicuña Foundation camps are a place to go to be empowered!

The Laura Vicuña Foundation strengthened its volunteer training materials to provide informative, fun and interactive summer camps focused on teaching children from vulnerable backgrounds about their basic human rights thanks to CAD $16,800 from the Embassy’s Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI.)

The Chilean chapter of this international Foundation dedicates itself to developing programs and social projects that empower underprivileged children living in vulnerable regions, which includes more than 42,000 girls, youth and women on an annual basis.

The funds provided by the CFLI were used to update the summer camps training materials for their volunteers. Twenty youth volunteers, monitors of the four summer schools across Chile, were taught about the basics of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, of which Chile is a signatory, and different methods to teach children about their basic human rights in a fun and interactive manner.

Children participating in the Foundation’s summer camps live in some of the poorest neighborhoods in Chile. This year the summer camps were run in Alto Hospicio (near the city of Iquique in the North), Renca (Region of Santiago), Lautaro, and Lonquimay (both located in the Southern region of Araucania, home of the indigenous group Mapuche in the South).

Harsh living conditions for local families inhabiting these four regions are exacerbated by low incomes, lack of employment and substandard housing. Statistics have demonstrated that individuals, both from the indigenous and non-indigenous communities, live in poverty or abject poverty; Alto Hospicio (16.26%), Renca (19.2%), Lautara (20.9%), and Lonquimay (37.78). As a result, these community’s youth populations often lack opportunities for child-adolescent participation and development.

These full-time camps have allowed children, who would otherwise likely be left without stimulating activity during their summer vacation, to interact with others while learning valuable and life-altering lessons about their basic human rights. Through the use of visual art and theatre, the children expressed what they have learned about their rights and their responsibilities as a citizen and as a child. The expected benefits from these camps are that children and youth start to develop higher expectations for their development.

The Laura Vicuña Foundation is an international Christian organization founded in 1990. It is dedicated to addressing the needs and problems of street children. The Foundation aims to ensure continuity and convergence of educational and development interventions to empower children to become honest, productive and self-reliant citizens.