Ulisses Victor Gervásio School: a school to be proud of for Mauá’s children

Located on a dead-end street in a deprived neighborhood, the Ulisses Victor Gervásio School is the only one in the city of Mauá, in Brazil’s São Paulo district, that offers full-time education and serves more than one meal a day.

With around 170 pupils aged from seven to ten years old, it also offers extra-curricular activities and opens to local residents at weekends for lectures, sports and leisure activities as part of the Escola da Familia – School of the Family – program.

The school was already known to Deco colleagues who were involved in an AkzoNobel initiative called Clube da Terra, visiting on a monthly basis to lead recreational activities and deliver environmental education.

Judo lessons, for example, are a way of promoting team spirit, discipline and respect for others. When they saw the inadequate conditions, lack of maintenance and poor state of the surrounding wasteland, they knew that with support from the Community Program they could improve the lives of pupils and their families.

“We noticed the area surrounding the school was also being used by neighbors as a leisure area,” said sustainability analyst Claudia Luz, who coordinated the project. “It was in a bad condition – there is a lack of resources and little or no maintenance. We wanted to create a space they would be proud of, that they would be inspired to take care of and which would improve their self-esteem – and give the children who live there, who are exposed to crime, a happier childhood.”

The project included general cleaning of the school’s outdoor area and surroundings, renovating the sports court and installing a small playground made from recycled tires. Building a vegetable garden was another important part of the plan, as this would not only provide the school with fresh, healthy food, but also serve as a meeting point for parents who would take responsibility for its care and upkeep.

With Community Program support, ten large fans were purchased for classrooms and the recreation area, along with building materials.

“We had some challenges, such as bad weather in the rainy season – we had to reschedule work several times,” explained Claudia. “But we were supported by the community, mainly the young people who attend themselves at the weekends.”

There were also some issues the volunteers needed to be aware of as they were working in a known violent area where some of the young people had already been involved with the police.

The spirit of cooperation was clear to see, however, and everyone took great personal satisfaction from knowing the positive impact their efforts had on the lives of those who rely on Ulisses Victor Gervásio School.

“It was wonderful to have the opportunity of being involved in a project that improves the quality of life of underprivileged children and teenagers,” said Thamires Mattos, one of the volunteers.

“Creating a good living space and reading area, we are investing in the future and encouraging good habits for future generations. I’m sure that we will see the fruits of our labors in adults who are more aware and concerned about the community they live in.”

Flávia Takeuchi, added: “I am proud of being part of a project that helped a community with little access to infrastructure, culture and leisure options. I truly believe that we are contributing a lot to the community, and especially to the children.”