During our training to become a PADI Swim School Instructors we have the chance to work with kids from the organization CEPIA. CEPIA is a non-profit Association pro-Culture, Education and Psychology for Infants and Adolescents.
CEPIA was founded in August 2005 in Huacas, Guanacaste. There are many reasons to found an organization like this. Poverty, Violence, school dropout, health problems, unemployment. These are an everyday reality for many children and families in Guanacaste. CEPIA supports hundreds of children, teenager and their families from a poor background, through after-school programs, psychological help for victims, educational projects for high -risk youths, professional training, foodbank, a library and many things more. Their mission is easy formulated but hard to implement. CEPIA seeks to improve the quality of life of children and teenager and their families from a poor background in Costa Rica by promoting cultural development, educational and market opportunities, physical and mental health, social cohesion, and participation.
The reality in Guanacaste shows, that one out of three children between 0 and 6 years live in a poor household. According to the National Institute of Statistic and Census, a household is considered as poor when the income per capita is below or equal to the poverty line of the area. In case of a rural area, it's below 81'344 colones. 41.2% of children under 7 years reside in households whose members have a low level of education. Among the children aged between 15 and 24 years, the unemployment was 23% The national unemployment reaches 8.5%. All these factors lead to violence, drug use, student exclusion mental and physical illness, crime, gangs, and insertion yore, selling drugs, diseases. These social and economic, both at the micro level and at the level structure situations contribute to high-risk factors for youth sexually transmitted suicides, extreme poverty.
The solution CEPIA creates for these problems is 5 main aims.
1) Solidarity – The main focus is the social inclusion of hundreds of boys, girls and youths and their family who are at social risk in Guanacaste. People can meet, join together, learn, talk, help each other and value each other. The participation of the community in the activities and in the work of the community center increases educational, training and occupational opportunities as well as a greater personal development which promotes the eradication of child labor, sexual commercial exploitation, school exclusion, violence, and poverty. The children and their families belong to a group and in this reason, they are significantly less likely to be lead into illegal and violent activities.
2) A dignified, accessible, and safe space – The community center is a modern clean, creative and colorful public space with everyone's participation. For the community, it is open for use 24/7, 7 days a week.
3) Education, health, culture, and well-being – Through the wide range of program and educational projects offered work opportunities and personal achievements are improved as well as the expansion of human potential. A good mental and physical health for people is indispensable both for personal success as well as a strong economy. According to the perspective of empowerment, self-formulation and self-management of the projects are encouraged by the participant population. The CEPIA organization protects a pedagogical, holistic, integral, diversified, dynamic, participatory, gender- sensitive, contextual and humanist vision.
4) Combating social, economic and community problems – CEPIA looks to decrease violence, inequality, alcoholism, drug addiction, mental health illness, contamination, teenage pregnancy, school exclusion, gender violence, sexual commercial exploitation, undernourishment and malnourishment, poverty and extreme poverty and homophobia, among other problems of local context in a significant way.
5) Interinstitutional articulation - Interinstitutional and intergroup articulation is the base of integral attention.
If you like to learn more about this fantastic organization, visit their homepage.
ConnectOcean ais a proud partner of CEPIA and provides the kids and teenagers the opportunity to learn how to swim as part of their after-school program. Each Tuesday afternoon and Friday morning we have swim classes for these kids and teenagers. It's very rewarding, the kids get to learn swimming which is such an important life skill in a country like Costa Rica, and also get to participate in a new social environment and meet new people. The kids loves these lessons and for me and Anna as swim school instructors in training it's very rewarding to work with kids within all levels.