In 2007 I was one of 11 delegates to a program organized by the government of Japan called "Ship for World Youth," which aims to establish networks and activities for youth leaders across the world. There I met a Canadian woman named Dara Parker who was working on a program called "Sport in a Box," which introduces global themes through physical activities. I had always been a hyperactive girl involved in many sports and I was really excited by the opportunity to link themes this way.
How did you translate this idea to a Mexican context?
When I got back to Mexico I asked a fellow delegate if he would start a project like "Sport in a Box" with me and try it out for a year. We worked together to adapt and "tropicalize" the idea to Mexico and changed the games to be more identified with Mexico. We piloted one semester and we were amazed with the results.
How do you translate the UN’s broad goals into local ones?
The broad goal of the program is to invite children to be local change-makers, and to this end we emphasize five main values in all of our games – teamwork, fair play, respect, tolerance, and gender equality. We have a huge obesity problem in Mexico, so we hope to also teach physical activity through these games. We train teachers to implement our activities in school and in indigenous shelters for underdeveloped municipalities so that a large diversity of students can get access to the program. We started in 2007 and ever since 80 percent of the students we work with are indigenous.
How do you help students to internalize these change-making goals?
The whole program is through games so that the kids are having fun while, say, realizing why it is important for them to treat others with respect. After each game – and at various points throughout the curriculum – students reflect on how they felt and how the games relate back to their own realities and personal values.
Where and how did you start the program? Was it adopted quickly by schools?
Our first year we ran semester-long programs and piloted them with zero pesos in our pockets. We started in a shelter in Chihuahua, and just started calling shelters and asking if we could come. We also piloted in two private schools in Mexico City, including Colegio Ciudad de México, the one I’d attended. As we expand it’s been very important to us to maintain a diversity of public and private schools as well as indigenous shelters.