Media and Child Rights Projects in Rio de Janeiro: Cantagalo Video Letter

Opening a Window to the Lives of Children Around the World

Cantagalo3The Cantagalo Video Carta, or Cantagalo Video Letter, is a project combining youth work and participatory media that was carried out in Rio de Janeiro during summer 2010 by graduate students from the New School University’s Graduate Program in International Affairs (GPIA).

The video letter project began in Rio de Janeiro during the summer of 2009 during a two-month long course in the community of Complexo da Maré, with local children and youth. The project aimed to teach children media skills such as filming, editing and interviewing.  Local children utilized these skills to film a 30-minute video piece, a “video letter”, which is meant to provide a window into the children’s lives and how they live within their communities. The video letters are made available to children and youth all around the world, who respond with their own video letters.

The 2010 video letter project took place in the favela community called Cantagalo, which lies between Rio de Janeiro’s two most prosperous neighborhoods, Ipanema and Copacabana. The project was carried out in collaboration with a a local school, “Solar Meninos da Luz”, and with help and support from students of the Pontifia Universidade Catolica (PUC Rio).

Cantagalo4Eleven children and youth from Cantagalo participated in the 2010 eight-week media course, during which time they created the 30-minute video letter. The objectives of the course included teaching children media literacy, using the newly developed skills to increase participants’ understanding of their community and surroundings, encouraging the children to go beyond their comfort zone when choosing interview topics and interview subjects, teaching participants about human rights, providing children with the opportunity  to offer an image of their lives and communities other than the negative one often portrayed by mainstream media, and connecting the children and youth of Cantagalo to their peers around the world.

To learn more about the Cantagalo Video Carta Project, please visit the Project web site at  www.cantagalovideocarta.wordpress.comWatch the trailer of the 2010 Cantagalo Video Letter:

The Cantagalo Video Letter is the third video letter project that has been carried out by students from the New School:  In 2009, the first Video Letter Project was implemented in Complexo da Maré. The trailer for that video letter may be viewed by clicking here.  Early in 2010, students in the International Affairs Program created a Video Letter as their final practicum project at GPIA. It involved eight middle school students from the South Bronx, New York City. Equity for Children will soon feature more news about the Bronx Video Letter project and about the NGO that developed from these video letter experiences.

The Rio de Janeiro Program is one of several International Field Programs (IFP) offered through the New School’s Graduate Program in International Affairs. During summer 2010, 15 students from GPIA worked on eight projects, of which four focused on children and youth. Each project inspired and empowered the participating children, youth and adults to use media and citizen journalism as tools for social change.

GPIA students worked in collaboration with local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and with the valuable support from local undergraduate students attending PUC-Rio (Pontifícia Universidade Católica).

The Brazil IFP is coordinated by Professor Peter Lucas of GPIA and provides New School students in New York with the opportunity to plan and implement projects related to human rights in communities that most people visiting Rio de Janeiro never see. This summer, students worked in the communities of Rocinha, Cantagalo, Complexo da Maré, Cidade de Deus, Vila Mimosa and Bangu.

To find out more about the GPIA International Field Programs, please visit the program web site at

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