Basketball is the tool that Aros de Esperanza uses to reach the girls in order to keep them off the streets and out of trouble.
Through the basketball programme Aros de Esperanza wants the girls to have a fun time, a great hobby and something to look forward to everyday that becomes part of their daily lives, thus improving the health, welfare and quality of their life.
All basketball training sessions last for two hours, of which ten to fifteen minutes are always dedicated to a discussion about the aims and hopes of the Foundation including: the importance of staying in school, avoiding teen pregnancy, staying clear from gangs and drug use, and the importance of building positive relations with family members. Such discussions are meant to foster thinking and promote dialogue among the girls and coaches about their future.
Aros de Esperanza teaches the girls that they have the power to make positive changes in their lives. In return they will become respected citizens of their communities, ultimately making their neighbourhoods a better place to live in.
Aros de Esperanza has an official project regulation with strict rules. The girls are only allowed to participate in the programmes if they, along with their parents agree to the official regulations of the Foundation and have signed it. The regulations consist of several conduct rules, values and norms to which all the players must comply. Also included in the regulations are several rules regarding compulsory studying.
For example, Aros de Esperanza has the rule that a girl has to go to school if she wants to participate in the basketball programme. Many girls in Medellín elect to drop out of school around the age of thirteen. Without a school diploma many girls may end up in the criminal, drugs or sex circuit.
All girls have to do their best at school, to try to obtain good grades. Every time the girls receive a school report card they have to show it to their coach, and a copy will be filed with their registration information at our office. If a player has failed more than two subjects, then se may not participate in league matches or Family Days until she has successfully passed the failed subjects, but can keep participating in the training sessions.
All coaches have to keep an attendance record of the players. If a player has not shown up for two training sessions in a row, then the coaches have to make a compulsory house visit to find out the reason.
In addition to teaching the girls about the importance of a healthy and productive lifestyle, Aros de Esperanza also wants to teach the girls positive social and communication skills, as well as discipline, honesty, respect, solidarity and tolerance. As most girls come from the street, many girls use abusive language, shout instead of normal talking and see fighting as the only way of communicating.
The basketball sessions teach the girls to respectful behaviour such as: listening, showing kindness, and discussing important issues that come up in a civilized manner.
Since basketball is a team sport, the girls learn to interact in a social setting on the field. They can then take these skills and apply them to their daily lives. Basketball as sport brings discipline into the girl's lives, that will inevitably translate into other areas such as their education, career and relationships.
Aros de Esperanza also aims to involve families and community members in the basketball programme. The training sessions, league matches and Family Days bring girls and families of different neighbourhoods together, breaking down racial and economic boundaries and uniting persons from different backgrounds.
The Foundation works to ensure that community members of all age, gender or racial background can meet, relax and socialize together during the training sessions, league matches and Family Days.
Aros de Esperanza ensures its programmes feeds into Colombia's development priorities. Specifically, it supports the Government's social community activities, such as prevention programmes concerning HIV/AIDS, teen pregnancy and drug and alcohol use.
One way the Foundation does so is by inviting guest speakers of local health organisations to the training sessions and league matches to discuss these critical issues.