Primary and secondary schools in Brazil are celebrating the Rio 2016 Olympics by hosting their own “co-operative” version of the games.
The project is part of the national programme Cooper Jovem (Young Co-operator), run by the Organisation of Brazilian Co-operatives (OCB). The apex body runs the National Service of Cooperative Learning (SEScoop) in collaboration with co-operatives across the state.
The Co-Olympic games are being held throughout August and September in schools across Santa Caterina, one of the country’s states. Around 109 teachers from 55 schools and 21 co-operative professionals were involved in designing the games. Children were encouraged to play together in teams rather than against each other.
Fábio Brotto, one of the facilitators of the Co-Olympic Games, explained in an article for OCB that these did not oppose the traditional Olympic Games.
Rather, the aims of the Co-Olympic games was to teach children about co-operation through different sports by adapting the rules.
“During the event, the emphasis will shift from the competitive approach to a co-operative one,” said Mr Brotto.
For example, volleyball is played using sheets to serve and return balls, encouraging children to work together in teams.
The games, launched at the School Walderman Kleinunbing of Videira, are designed to highlight principles five (education, training and information) and seven (concern for community). The organisers wanted to enable children to experience the Olympic spirit with more joy, inclusion, collaboration and shared success.
The official opening ceremony was modelled the Rio 2016 one, featuring a parade of delegations, presentations of slogans and mascots and theatre performances. The organisers spent two months preparing for the games.
Children have also created 15 characters, one of which became the official mascot of the Co-Olympic Games. The teachers involved hope this will inspire schools that are not part in the programme to promote more co-operation.
Mr Brotto thinks the games are an opportunity to rethink the methods and objectives of the traditional sports in order to raise awareness of the importance of co-operation. They are based on the idea of encouraging trans-disciplinary learning in schools while involving the entire school and community in the games.
“In the Co-Olympic Games there is not competition, only co-operation,” also said Luiz Vicente Suzin, president of SEScoop. “This initiative is critical for the recovery of the co-operative spirit, that is, participation in competitions and a living together getting along with each other, and not acting against each other.”
Cooper Joven currently involves 84 schools in 53 municipalities across the state and benefits more than 500 teachers and 26,000 students at kindergarten, primary and secondary level.