Viração Educomunicação: 20 years of mobilization and transformation with youth

By Ramona Azevedo, Communication Analyst at Viração

Viração Educomunicação celebrates two decades in 2023. Our journey has been built with hope, creativity and a lot of determination. We believe in the importance of active youth voices in society and our focus is on supporting the agency of girls, boys and non-binary people, providing formative spaces and open dialogue where they can share their experiences and collectively reflect on social issues, human rights and citizen participation.

Origins and inspiration

Paulo Lima, the dreamer, from Lagamar, a favela in Fortaleza, experienced the challenges of being a black man in a society where representation, voice and rights are often denied. He noticed that traditional media and the educational system frequently failed to portray and address the realities experienced by young people. This lack of spaces for youth to express their opinions and views combined with inspiration from Paulo Freire’s work became the seed that gave rise to Viração.

From there, the goal was to gather other professionals, activists and young people to create a journalistic product that would go beyond entertainment, common in media products aimed at youth in the early 2000s, and that would dialogue on important issues from the perspective of adolescents and young people. A channel for young people to tell their stories, discuss social issues and share perspectives, inviting other young people to critical reflection and bringing a diversity of viewpoints: regional, indigenous, quilombola, rural and urban.

This professional and deeply personal motivation culminated in Viração Magazine, a printed social project dedicated to portraying another Brazil, informing and empowering youth to exercise their right to communication. A real reflection of organized civil society with a clear political choice: to stand by children, adolescents and young people.

Challenges, resilience and triumphs

From the outset, Viração faced significant challenges: from restrictive social views on youth to technological limitation and even the hesitation of potential funders to support such an innovative and unprecedented initiative in style and format. Additionally, it had to deal with extremely delicate situations, including threats and tragic events involving young team members who were building the magazine. Despite the setbacks, it was possible to create a national network of adolescents and young people for active and affective participation.

These difficult moments only reinforced the organization’s determination to remain true to its values, rejecting any support that could compromise its mission and independence. Paulo and his team’s determination combined with a participatory and collaborative approach allowed the project to overcome adversity and become a reference in the field of educommunication in Brazil.

Viração also stands out in programs and projects for its political and social stance. The choice of a political engagement path alongside marginalized youth, creating safe spaces for them to express themselves, challenge and act to change dominant narratives, diverges from the traditional expectations for a third-sector organization. With the collaboration of educators, sociologists and journalists Viração has always prioritized communication and active participation of young people and its professionals through a collaborative and horizontal working structure focused on inclusion and social transformation.

The legacy of Viração

Over the years, Viração has not only empowered countless young people but also influenced the creation of several other entities with similar objectives.

In the interview that inspired this text, Paulo Lima stressed the importance of innovation and continuous adaptation, emphasizing the construction of a supportive environment within the organization where everyone feels encouraged to bring new ideas and solutions. Since 2003, Viração’s working methodology has relied on and encouraged innovative approaches that adapt to the needs of adolescents and young people, responding quickly to their multiplicities and helping them find their place in the world. With this support and encouragement, the youth we reach gain the courage and determination to express themselves and take control of their lives. This flexibility and dedication have earned Viração more than 20 awards and recognitions in these two decades of existence.

Today, Viração Educommunication is more than just an organization. It is a movement that seeks to contribute to regenerating democracy in Brazil by promoting social mobilization and youth civic participation in critical issues such as environmental and reproductive rights.

Reflections and Perspectives

The trajectory of Viração reflects the evolution of communication technologies in our time and consolidates itself as a place where Educommunication is present in all processes, valuing the diversity of people and knowledge, representation and critical awareness in its actions, especially in facing the challenge of mobilizing social movements in a complex political scenario.

Looking to the future as we reach 20 years of history, we renew hope in young people and the desire for Viração to continue thriving with a renewed focus on mobilizing for youth participation and strengthening independent media in Brazil and other countries, especially in Italy, Latin America and Africa.

Celebrating twenty years of dedication and impact, Viração seeks to honor and revisit its past by understanding its present moment as a reflection of all the movements, ideas and people involved in projects and programs and turning to the future with its renewed mission, recognizing the need for constant transformation and the search for creative solutions.

We reaffirm our unwavering commitment to mobilizing youth and aspiring for a more equitable and inclusive society. Viração’s journey so far is a living testament to the transformative potential of adolescents and young people when empowered with the right tools and fueled by critical consciousness. As we move into Viração’s third decade, it remains a beacon of inspiration for all who value the power of Educommunication, popular communication and education as means of social change. As outlined by Paulo Lima, the transformative power of communication and the empowerment of youth will always be Viração’s core pillars.

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