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NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors

STARTTS’ Capoeira Program

Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian art that arose out of the struggle of the Afro-Brazilian population of Brazil, many of whom were brought to Brazil to work as slaves in the 16th century.

Capoeira is an art form that combines elements of martial arts, music, non-contact dance, culture, and history. Capoeira develops the participant’s physical capacity, self-control and self-expression, tolerance, and acceptance of others. Unlike other martial arts and sports there is no winner or loser in this game, it is about connection, cooperation and social interaction.

Capoeira intends to promote psychosocial wellbeing in children and young people through:

  • Increasing playfulness: Capoeira class becomes a place for participants to express themselves and experience childlike wonder and creativity
  • Friendship formation: At Capoeira class new friendships are made and existing friendships strengthened.
  • Increasing tolerance: Capoeira “Roda” Circle creates a place for participants to listen, respect and develop healthy coping mechanisms while participating in a non-violent environment.
  • Strengthening inner self: By combining body movements and voice, participants develop courage to try and make mistakes as an integral part of a learning process, while performing with peers in a circle.
  • Emotional stability: The nature of playfulness in capoeira leads to stress release, improves mood and improves the ability to deal with difficult situations at home, at school or with peers.
  • Feeling Better: Through regular physical exercise, participants became more self-aware and more in control of themselves; emotionally, socially and physically. It also promotes better sleep, boosts energy, and improves mood.

The Game

Participants form a circle (roda) and take turns playing musical instruments, singing, or ‘sparring’ in pairs in the centre of the roda. The sparring is marked by fluid play, and sweeping arm and leg movements. It is a non-violent and non-contact activity.

Why STARTTS has a Capoeira program

Many of the young people from refugee backgrounds that come to STARTTS have experienced high levels of trauma associated with experiences of dispossession, conflict or living in refugee camps. For some young people, this trauma can contribute to behavioural issues and affect their ability to concentrate and build trusting relationships, especially in a school environment.

Capoeira promotes empowerment, self-regulation, respect, self-awareness and developing individual strengths while being a member of the group – all important elements for a young person who is coming to terms with trauma and the refugee journey. Read more about the program in this article.

Sometimes I get scared a little bit in the beginning of playing but then I like showing everyone that I can do it.  It makes me feel good inside when I can do it.

More information

Call the STARTTS Youth Team on 9646 6700.

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