*This is the third blog in a series documenting a recent trip to visit Kids to Kids projects in Costa Rica by Patrick, Kids to Kids Program Coordinator. To read the first blog, please click here. To read the second blog, click here.

About Copey de Dota

Copey de Dota is a quiet, tiny town located WAY on the top of a mountain in the breathtaking region of central Costa Rica. Far removed from anything resembling a big city, only one bus infrequently makes its way up and down the mountain to and from Copey. Kids from Copey have to ride this bus down the mountain to get to the nearest high school, which makes finishing school a big challenge for youth in Copey. Jobs are similarly hard to come by, with most teens and adults needing to travel down to larger towns or to one of the region's coffee farms for work.

Because of the town's isolation, there is a lack of fun activities for youth. Aside from the one large pley (soccer field) in the middle of town, afterschool activities are almost non-existent in Copey. There are no art programs in the local schools and limited ways for youth to express their creativity.

Despite these difficult circumstances, there are dedicated Community Leaders working hard to create positive change in Copey. With these leaders and the local Peace Corps Volunteer, World Connect was able to make a major impact in Copey through the Kids to Kids project "Arte por la Paz".

The Project

Arte por la Paz (Art for Peace) is a dynamic Kids to Kids project that explored themes of peace and non-violence, both locally and globally, through various art forms such as painting, photography, mosaic, theater and dance. The project took place over a three-month period and consisted of three main parts. First, there was a weekly Art for Peace workshop series where the kids participated in team-building exercises and explored many different art forms often for the first time. The second part of the project, a community mural, allowed the kids to put into practice the team building and artistic lessons learned from the workshop series.

They drew a mural design, transferred their design to a public space in the town center, and painted an AMAZING mural that caught the attention of national media in Costa Rica!! [To read more about the national media attention this project received, click here.] Finally, thanks to the Kids to Kids Grant Award, the kids were also able to travel outside of Copey to a regional Art for Peace conference. At the conference they met other groups of inspiring kids from many different parts of Costa Rica, and worked collaboratively not just to learn more about peace and nonviolence, but to learn how they could spread it throughout their own communities. At the end of the conference, this dynamic group of young leaders from Copey won a prize for best dance!

Video: In the words of the Peace Corps Volunteer

Check out a quick video of the Peace Corps Volunteer discussing the impact of Kids to Kids on Copey.

VIDEO: In her own words

From the Kids to Kids Program Coordinator

"One thing that was so clear to me on this trip to Costa Rica was that Kids to Kids Members have a knack for approving awesome projects in high-need communities. My visit to Copey de Dota was a fantastic example of this. The community is WAY off the beaten path. First you have to drive down, down, down one mountain into a beautiful green valley, and then you have to drive up, up, up to the top of another mountain to arrive in Copey. The road leading up to Copey winds back and forth around these steep hairpin turns; it feels like you're driving right up into the clouds. It's hard to imagine anyone being able to make that trip very often, and shocking to know that so many kids make the trip every day by bus just to go to high school."

"I spent a lot of time just walking around the town with the Peace Corps Volunteer, learning about the different projects that she had been working on and learning about the challenges that youth face in Copey. It's a sleepy little town where kids have to work hard for the opportunity to get an education. But it's towns like Copey where Kids to Kids can have an AMAZING impact by providing the support for fun, creative and unique projects. We visited the homes of some of the kids who participated in the Kids to Kids project, and I heard from them first-hand about how important the project was for their community and for their lives. They also showed me squares of a cool peace quilt that they had been working on in their most recent Art for Peace meeting! All in all, Copey de Dota was a powerful example of just why Kids to Kids is so important."

Copey de Dota Moving Forward

"The Community Leaders and Peace Corps Volunteer in Copey de Dota remain super committed to providing creative, fun and educational opportunities for local youth. As part of the March 2010 Kids to Kids grant cycle, Kids to Kids Members approved a second Grant Award for a new project in Copey entitled "Camp COCO" (Chicas Orgullosas Creando Opportunidades - Proud Girls Creating Opportunities). This project will provide girls from Copey and a neighboring town with their first opportunity to participate in a summer camp! At Camp COCO, the girls will participate in art projects, play games, learn about nature and the environment, learn about leadership and teamwork, and design community service projects to be carried out in their communities. World Connect is proud to continue supporting the youth of Copey de Dota through the Kids to Kids program!"

To see more pictures of Kids to Kids impact in Copey de Dota, become a fan of Kids to Kids on Facebook and visit our photo albums. To support more Kids to Kids projects like these, please make a donation to the Kids to Kids All-Kids Fund here