Thursday, April 3, 2008

Surfing Brazil -- Top Students from Rocinha

Top Students in Rio Favela/Slum Rewarded with Surf Trip

Dear Friends of Developing Minds,

Last month we took 10 extraordinary students out of one of Rio de Janeiro's violent, desperately poor favelas -- urban slums -- and brought them on a magical surfing expedition. None of these young kids had ever spent the night beyond the favela walls, but because of their strong academic performance at our school in Rocinha they were able to travel over 1,000 kilometers along the Brazilian coast to one of the most beautiful and natural beaches in the world, Praia da Ferrugem.

We believe that kids who live in extreme hardship yet overcome unimaginable odds to succeed academically should be rewarded and encouraged. For this reason, we decided to take the top ten students out of the daily grind of Rocinha favela and go surfing instead. It is difficult to calculate the full impact of such a trip, but certainly it was an affirmation that their most hopeful expectations for life could be realized after all. As these kids walked down the hill of shantytowns and packed into the bus to take this improbable journey of imagination and discovery, they experienced first hand that great possibilities are available to them. Below is a link to several photos of the trip.

(Photo slideshow: 1 minute, 28 seconds)

Thanks again to all contributors who made this trip possible, including my high school surfing buddy Ricky Gehris who opened up his Surfari Surf School in Praia da Ferrugem for an entire week and at no charge so these outstanding students could have the experience of their lives.

Help Expand Opportunity to Others

The message to all of our students is clear: develop a love for learning, remain optimistic and great things will happen. To help support our school in Rocinha favela so these kids and others can continue pursuing an education, please go to and make a contribution under the Donations section.

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