A wooden shack that offered education for children through sports and dance in 1978 has developed into a safe haven from drugs and violence that today provides cultural, educational, sports and leisure activities for youth up to age 17 in São Paulo, Brazil. Projeto Sol (Project Sun), founded by Sister Angela Mary (Carey), CSC, and Luiz Carlos dos Santos, was honored at the Brazil state legislative assembly in September. The founders received the Merit of Honor of the São Paulo Legislature, the highest honor given by the legislative assembly.
Projeto Sol students participated in the honor with a performance by the ballet group. Also, an exhibition of the children’s works—including drawings, artwork and sculptures—was displayed in the Art Gallery of the legislative assembly building throughout the month of September.
“Our mission is the interior transformation of the youth and children so that they will become people whose faith in God is profound and will orientate their lives in dignity, love and solidarity. Through the immersion in the beauty of art, the enchantment of dance and theater, the joy of sports and the magic of books, they will become capable of dreaming new lives and [being] messengers of peace,” said Sister Angela Mary.
For the past 40 years, Projeto Sol has grown from serving a handful of youth to more than 200, and with participation and investment from the local community, it also has grown from that small building into a facility with running water and electricity. Projeto Sol developed a pedagogy based on the fine arts as instruments in the transformation of the youth and children.
“I got involved when I transferred from teaching and administration in Colégio Santa Maria (a school in São Paulo sponsored by the Sisters of the Holy Cross) and went to work with the youth in the parish where our Holy Cross sisters were missioned. There I encountered the beginning of the drug traffic in our area,” noted Sister Angela Mary. After three years of working with youth, she and Luiz Carlos decided to address issues of poverty, drugs and violence through a structured program based on sports and the arts. “After 40 years we have seen hundreds who have passed through our cultural center as dignified and responsible adults.”
One of the most memorable events for Sister Angela Mary was the university graduation of teachers (seven from the University of Santo Amaro and one from Centro Universitário Ítalo Brasileiro, popularly known as UniÍtalo), all of whom lived in the slums in São Paulo and grew up participating at Projeto Sol. Another memorable occasion was being awarded second place in 2018’s THE ONE, an international humanitarian award from Rotary International, District 3450 in Hong Kong.
“We hope that those who walk with us will own our mission and teach us how to live it,” said Sister Angela Mary.