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Reinventing possibilities for youth

Ashoka Fellow, Mexico City, Mexico

Hector’s work is revealing a new facet of youth obscured by violence and prejudices. He has demonstrated how youth can be productive and engaging in their communities through education and training. Each year, over 600 youths participate in Circo Volador programs including training courses, discussions, video and radio production training, theater, concerts, and music recording. Through its initiatives, Circo Volador reaches a larger community base of approximately 35,000 people per year. Following the success of Circo Volador, violence in local neighborhoods directed by and against youth has plummeted while youth engagement in the community has risen sharply.Hector Castillo has built a project that places rival gang members in the same room. In Mexico City, decaying urban areas has spawned youth gangs and a culture that isolates them from mainstream society. At best they are misunderstood; at worst, they are ignored. Lack of opportunity coupled with extreme inequality gives way to delinquency and often violent behavior. In their shared center, named Circo Volador (Flying Circus), they have the opportunity to take classes and train in artistic and technical skills for future employment; share art and literature; and integrate layers of society through projects and discussions.

Hector is continuing to pioneer research on youth, creating an observatory where researchers, students, and teachers work to create a “social cartography” of the situation facing youth in the City of Mexico and create a new body of solutions.

Speech Topics:

  • Youth, Gangs, and Culture
  • Social Policy
  • Applied Social Research
This article was originally published on May 13, 2016
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