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STARTTS Project Bantu Capoeira Angola – healing through music, song and movement

I just tell myself “I can do this” and I just do it.

“I feel like I belong… I lost my family when I was young, so it’s a good feeling to belong to something… I am not lost.”

“I actually like myself now, I used to hate ‘me’ before”

But it wasn’t always this way…

Back up a few years ago, and the words of these refugee teens were very different. Victims of traumatic pasts, these students were struggling. Attempting to reconcile their past whilst settling into their new host country, these adolescents were filled with self-doubt, low self-esteem and a deep mistrust of adults and authority. The manifestation of this included defiance, physical and verbal violence, truancy and often, repeated suspensions from school.

Recognising the need to develop a program for these adolescents which would complement traditional behavioural therapies, STARTTS implemented a new narrative approach: Project Bantu Capoeira Angola program developed by Edielson Miranda aka Mestre Roxinho.

Led by senior project officer STARTTS and Capoeira Angola Master, Mestre Roxinho, the program founder said, “Project Bantu aims to help refugee adolescents settle into school life and build trust with their teachers and peers.”

“The program is about building self-esteem, increasing learning capabilities, and most importantly, building a sense of belonging,” says Mestre.

And the way this is done is through music, song and movement. In the research paper “Resilience building through alternative intervention: STARTTS “Project Bantu Capoeira Angola”: on the road to recovery” published in Intervention Journal, Capoeira is described as “fundamentally a simulated, non-contact combat between two players which uses an amalgamation of music, singing and martial arts movements.”

“With music, singing and movement, we create activities to build interest and participation in school life,” explains Mestre.

Mastering the Capoeira movements gives students confidence and is a key factor in developing a strong sense of perceived self-efficacy. Through their success in the Capoeira Angola classes, students learn they can achieve in the classroom as well as in the wider community.

Since the program was implemented in Australia in 2007 with just two participating schools, 15 more schools have embraced the program. The program is now run across South Western Sydney, Western Sydney and rural NSW.

And the results speak for themselves. In evaluating the program, STARTTS found “significant reductions in emotional and behavioural problems… as well as an overall diminution in behavioural challenges.”

This, coupled with a decrease in anger and disruptive behaviour has led to improvements in teacher/student relationships and has paved the way for healing.

For more information about the program, contact STARTTS on 9646 6700.