Over 25 years ago in Rio de Janeiro’s Mangueira neighborhood, a community and sports center opened. Created by the community for the community, it was designed to provide the area, renowned for its samba heritage, with social and recreational opportunities across a wide variety of sports, which inspired the center’s title: Olympic Village. A few years later, the village’s success prompted Rio’s City Hall to become an official sponsor and spread the Olympic Village model (and name) across the metropolis.
Today, there are 22 Olympic Villages in Rio, serving roughly 25,000 kids. Many of these villages are situated in the city’s most under-resourced areas, where safety concerns and lack of infrastructure limit mobility, compelling children to play within a mile of their homes and contributing to Brasil’s designation as the home of Latin America’s least active youth. To help combat these issues and inspire a lifelong love of movement, Nike is partnering with the City of Rio to revitalize youth programming in all 22 villages over the next five years.
Over the last several weeks, Nike President & CEO, Nike, Inc. Mark Parker, Trevor Edwards, President, Nike Brand, and sporting icons, like American Carl Lewis, have enjoyed time at the Encantado Olympic Village. Located under the Linha Amarela Bridge, a major avenue that connects Rio’s vibrant western beach neighborhoods to its less developed north, the Encantado Olympic Village was the first space revitalized through the partnership, which is informed by consultations with the city, its community representatives, youth experts, NGOs, local artists and others.
“I was delighted to be able to visit the Encantado village a few weeks ago, along with track and field legend Carl Lewis. It was yet another reminder of the power of sports to lift people up and to offer a more vibrant, spirited life,” says Parker. “At Nike, we know sport changes lives and we understand the importance of providing safe places for kids to be active and social. We are committed to helping kids unlock their love for physical activity and to giving them ample opportunity to achieve their fullest potential. These Olympic Villages are the heartbeat of that effort here — where kids can experience truly transformative experiences.”
In addition to Encantado, three villages, Caju, Clara Nunes and Mato Alto, are also receiving full renovations (including brand activations and volunteer support from Nike retail employees in Rio), while all of the 22 villages receive training in youth programming, plus Nike product and equipment.
“We have over 160 neighborhoods and 6.4 million people in Rio,” explains Alice Gismonti, Nike’s Director of Community Impact in Brasil. “It would be impossible to transport kids to the programs; we need to bring the programs to the kids. If we can build a platform throughout the city where those kids can start experiencing sport in all its dimensions, we can change how this new generation of kids will look at sport moving forward."