CRIA CONEXÕES institute is an NGO founded in 2013 in the neighborhood of Jabaquara (São Paulo), with the purpose of promoting educational opportunities and income generation through bicycle culture. Its main target audience is the former prisoners and the ones from the Fundação Casa (where young offenders are brought in Brazil), who suffer prejudice and the difficulty of leaving the circle of crime and finding chances of resocialization. For this marginalized portion of society, CRIA CONEXÕES offers courses and projects that enable not only a momentary income, but also pave the way for these people to reevaluate their future.
The NGO became an object of work for ESPM’s Journalism students in March 2018, when the institute began to receive free attendance from ComCorp, an experimental corporate communication project that semi-annually selects social projects and small entrepreneur’s ones who could not afford it (contracting this kind of services). The first step for CRIA CONEXÕES was the elaboration of a communication plan focused on press relations for the dissemination of its projects. After the planning, the students were responsible for carrying out actions to promote NGO projects in different media. They were also responsible for the production of content for institutional communication channels (such as website and official social media profiles); training of spokespersons (in this case, the founder of the organization and a former prisoner, Fagner Saturno); branding strategy and positioning of the institution, among other actions.
The complete work for the CRIA CONEXÕES was carried out over 18 months (divided into three semiannual cycles). In all, at least 15 students were directly involved with the project throughout its different levels. In addition, students responsible for the online television program called LINKADOS (also offered to journalism students) participated in an interview with the founder of the NGO. In addition to encouraging students to practice television interviews, this action benefited the Institute by providing them with media training, with an emphasis on defining their positioning. At the same time, the edited program aired and became a piece of dissemination of the institution’s work.
In 2019, the project was voted the best experimental work in the Press Office category of the Southeast region of Brazil (covering the states of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, and Espirito Santo). The award was conferred by the Brazilian Society of Interdisciplinary Communication Studies (Intercom). Intercom’s recognition is especially due to students ‘efforts in helping CRIA CONEXÕES’ projects in an adverse political context in Brazil during the 2018 general election season. In that scenario, hate speech and intolerance were heightened in the public space, reinforcing the stigma about former prisoners – continually condemned as incapable and for not deserving a fresh start. The communication actions planned by the students then gained a special emphasis: to promote the image of CRIA CONEXÕES around the empathy and the possibility of transformation of the human being. To ensure attentive listening to this speech, the NGO should, first of all, expose its projects – still unknown in the media.
Among the best results, the students collaborated for the Institute to reinforce its speech in favor of the human and social rights of the ex-prisoner population. The work yielded two special reports on open television channels (TV Cultura and TV Record), with emphasis on the life story and transformation of the NGO founder himself. In addition, students focused their efforts on organizing information about the scope of Cria Conexões’ projects, demonstrating the benefit generated to the wider community.
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The Institute is organized in a circular economy format, in which all actions connect and no resources are lost. In the center is the universe of cycling, on the rise in Sao Paulo.
In the project in the Jabaquara (south region of São Paulo), the institution offers bicycle mechanics programs for the former prisoners. The RECOMEÇAR course also offers notions of entrepreneurship and guides for cycling tourism – another professional job opportunity for students.
The materials used in the course are collected at bike shops in prime areas. Through BICICLETAGEM, a reverse logistics project, CRIA CONEXÕES collects unused parts that become learning tools at Bike Shed – where the RECOMEÇAR course takes place and is also a shared working space for former students to attend their first customers. The goal is to welcome the former prisoners and to indicate ways of life and work to avoid recurrence in crime.
The NGO has a prevention and education front, promoting community densification through vulnerable children and teenagers. Among the actions, are: reform and supply of bicycles for solidarity use in the periphery (with parts of BICICLETAGEM); BIKE NA QUEBRADA, a free itinerary project that puts back as many bikes as possible for residents; BIKEDUCA, which offers bicycles to share in a public daycare center; CRIA CONEXÕES School Bike, which redirects young idlers in the school hours to a Mountain Bike track; and Urban Connections, in partnership with the São Paulo Traffic Training and Education Center (CETET), which organizes lectures and cycling tours for public high school students.
The CRIA CONEXÕES also has a third way of operation, the Cyclotourism, in which the students of the RECOMEÇAR guide weekly bike rides and bike tours in and out of the State of São Paulo.