Music and sports against poverty

The latest data from the Philippine Statistics Authority’s Annual Poverty Survey shows that poverty has increased by almost five percent, from 25.8 percent to 24.6 percent in 2013 to 2014 due to higher food prices and the lingering effects of major devastations such as Typhoon Yolanda. 

As part of its efforts to effect positive change in the Philippines, JCI Manila has been exploring alternative efforts to alleviate poverty on top of its fundraising and community initiatives. And they have found two promising platforms: music and sports. Their area of focus: Smokey Mountain, a former landfill that is now a resettlement site for Manila’s impoverished families.

Through the Smokey Mountain Music Academy and the Football Club, members train coaches and residents to play music and sports as part of their education curriculum.

Says Steve Baltao, JCI Manila president, “Filipinos are one of the most musical people on earth. Teaching children this gift, allowing them to communicate through words and song – it’s not just an emotional outlet – it helps develop other skills such as collaboration and cooperation – which can help them lift their lives out of poverty.”

It is not just the children who benefit from music education; their communities stand to gain much as well. A study released by the Inter-American Development bank shows a positive correlation between music education, school attendance, better grades, and enrollment. This can be attributed to music strengthening skills such as language, reading, and memory, which are critical to the learning process.

Meanwhile, the positive effect of sports on childhood development has been extensively proven, with outcomes lasting well into adulthood. Aside from the natural physical development inherent in any sports activity, team-based sports also build character through inclusiveness, sportsmanship, camaraderie, and even strategy. Strengthening the body is also a vital result of sports; in poverty-stricken areas, there is no greater danger than illness.

Continues Baltao, “To paraphrase Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, the tragedy of poverty is not the lack of food or shelter; it is the feeling of being nobody. JCI Manila established the music and sports programs at Smokey Mountain to show the next generation that there is hope, and that they are part of the future. They just need to cooperate and collaborate as they would in sports or music – and these same values can be used to help them out of their situations.”

JCI Manila is currently accepting applicants for membership through to Aug. 25. For more information, visit http://bit.lyjcimanilagnmo,, like JCI Manila on Facebook, and follow @JCIManilaPH on Twitter.

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