Have you ever wonder what happens to kids that are too young to go to jail?
Located in the Mexican Caribe, near to the border of Belize theres a small city called Chetumal where The System for Integral Family Development (DIF for their spanish acronym) offers an option for Quintana Roo’s underage law infractors to avoid facing a serious sentences in youth jail.
The place is pretty much like a school that they can’t leave, with unarmed guards and scheduled activities. Parents of many of these kids choose to leave them in this facility for up to one year, often as a punishment for their actions that can go from stealing, gangs, drugs and fights.
We met up with 11 kids and 3 girls from 10 to 17 years old. They were super friendly and excited to have skateboards in their basketball court. Some of them had skated before so it was easy for them to learn tricks, for the rest that didn’t know how to ride a skateboard it was a challenge, but after some fear overcoming and a few falls they started flowing comfortably through lines.
After the session we shared snacks while we watched Get In The Van 2 full length video by Landyachtz Longboards and had a conversation about how passions and interests can uplift you from any situation. This opportunity of exchanging stories allowed the kids and skaters to learn from each other by generating an environment of empathy and freedom of being imperfect and that is okay to make mistakes, since it is one of the best way to learn something. The constant involvement of activities that foment understanding, listening and sharing are one of the main actions that might bring us closer to a real and sustainable peace.
I would like to thank Pauilna and David Andrade from Jóvenes del Siglo XXI, Ruben Martínez from Backside Skate Shop, Marisa Smith from Barracuda Board Co and Lea Philibert our first french volunteer for all the help in this workshop. I’d also like to thank Correctional Director Yamili Gómez for the Invite and the opportunity to skate with the kids.