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A Rehabilitation Programme that Uses the Sport of Fencing to Discipline Senegalese Youths

Since 2012, more than 1,200 young people aged between five and 17 have taken part in fencing classes, according to Pour le Sourire d’un Enfant (“For a Child’s Smile”), the charity that organises the programme with Senegal’s prison authorities and justice ministry. Among them are more than 500 young inmates, none of whom have been rearrested since serving their time. The classes form part of the Fencing and Restorative Justice scheme developed by Nelly Robin, who runs Pour le Sourire d’un Enfant alongside her work as a researcher with the French thinktank Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (Research Institute for Development). Participants follow a 60-lesson programme that is geared towards instilling a sense of identity, responsibility, respect and self-discipline. The fencing classes are often mixed, providing a rare opportunity for male and female inmates to socialise. Prison authorities and NGOs in Ivory Coast, Rwanda and Morocco have also expressed an interest in the scheme.