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Voices 4Peru

Soccer Changes Boys' Behavior

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Voices 4Peru

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Voices 4Peru: Soccer Changes Boys' Behavior

Boys in an impoverished community in Peru, South America, are mostly staying safe and out of trouble since joining the Club Deportivo Dan (Spanish for Dan's Sports Club, known as CDD) soccer team.

Criminal justice professor Michael Antonio has been evaluating the ways CDD has impacted boys in the club, which was established by American Dan M. Klopp in 2008. Klopp saw the need for an intervention in the poorest suburbs of Ventanilla, a town north of Lima, where at-risk youth frequently join gangs, engage in risky behaviors such as drugs, or are kidnapped as child labor for local mines. CDD's alternative is a community-based soccer program that requires attendance, solid schoolwork, personal development, and respect.

Antonio has taken 40 West Chester University students on four study abroad or service trips to Ventanilla, a trip that changes their lives. They encounter families with no running water in their homes; homes with dirt floors; whole neighborhoods that have never had electricity. It is unabridged culture shock. But they also encounter laughter, smiles, and welcoming hugs.

Those WCU students assist Antonio with his evaluation of CDD's effectiveness, interviewing boys who are in CDD's soccer program as well as some who have left the program, whether "aging out" or for less positive reasons. Antonio has found that the structure provided by CDD encourages boys to make the effort to do better in school and even helps them develop "work ethics that have measureable impacts for their families and the local community."

Read more about CDD and V4P in the alumni magazine.