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The Citizenship Agents Project [Projeto Agentes da Cidadania] is starting up in the “Zona da Mata” region in Minas Gerais



Encouraged by the involvement of Brazilian youth in political education and the social development of their communities, the Citizenship Agents Project has resumed its activities in the “Zona da Mata” area, specifically in the municipalities of Miraí, Muriaé, Rosário da Limeira, and São Sebastião da Vargem Alegre. These activities include the joint Votorantim Institute and CBA Citizenship Program, implemented by the Open Government and Democratic City Institutes [Governo Aberto and Cidade Democrática respectively] in the participating cities and towns since 2021. The goal of the project is to foster active citizenship among youth, with advances in the dimensions of democratic culture, political involvement, and territorial articulation. In 2022, the initiative selected 30 youth between the ages of 16 and 29 to work as volunteers, known as Citizenship Agents, between June and December of this year. According to 29-year-old Citizenship Agent Juliana de Souza Rezende, a history teacher at Escola Estadual Santo Antônio and an early childhood music initiation teacher at Colégio Renascer in Miraí, the most important element of the project is the exchange of knowledge and conversations between the people in the different cities and towns. “We talk about local issues and find out what we have in common and what is different. The most enriching is that we can add this social awareness that our students often bring to the classroom. Our youth are motivated to take a stand for citizenship, exercising their rights and duties. It is very important that we encourage this,” she added Christian Fonseca de Andrade, who manages CBA’s mining units in the “Zona da Mata”, believes that supporting Citizen Agents is in line with the Company’s commitment to invest in social actions, supporting the development of local communities. “The project is an important front to promote youth empowerment through citizenship education, encouraging them to support city and regional government managers, and making them aware of their rights and duties”, he said.   The Project Throughout the project, participating youth are involved in online activities and in-person workshops on weekends to share their learning with the communities. These workshops include debates and interactive games around the themes of social participation, citizenship, representation, identity, and political youth. They will also use and disclose a public query app other agents and citizens can use to analyze the problems of the city and the desire for change among local communities to develop actions that are supported and monitored by experts. The program agents will also be actively involved in the next online training meetings, drawing connections between their experience and the content presented. The youth will also plan and execute projects in their own cities and towns with other members of the Citizenship Network to exercise the competences they developed and multiply program learnings. The first meetings already address relevant concepts of politics and citizenship, such as the three spheres of power, civil rights, and important social matters. After this, mobilization activities will encourage the exercise of the content learned, with joint activities in the communities in culture, education, sports, and the environment, among other areas. According to Maria Júlia Mota Varizi, a 15-year-old citizen agent in the first year of secondary school at Escola Estadual Ormezinda Alves Duarte in São Sebastião da Vargem Alegre, the initiative is important to identify items that need improvement in the communities, and to find solutions for the city’s problems. “This knowledge exchange is interesting as it enables us to seek improvements for our city, and gives voice to local youth regarding social issues. I live in the rural area and have already found a number of problems that make life more difficult, and we are now identifying the agencies in charge to come up with a solution”, she added.   Next Cycles To select volunteers, the program had the support of different organizations, collectives, movements, political players, and local leaders in the cities and towns involved. In the upcoming cycles the young people involved will organize public hearings regarding national politics, and survey those they interact with about the current situation in Brazil These surveys will be used to identify local issues and desires for change, so that the agents can request information or make a formal complaint to the city government and/or city council.

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