Surfing takes Brazilian kids out of Rio slum

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...

20 PHOTOS
NTP: Surfing takes kids out of Brazilian slums
See Gallery
Surfing takes Brazilian kids out of Rio slum
A young bodyboarder from Rocinha watches the waves before surfing at Sao Conrado beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, July 1, 2015. Everyday barefoot boys hustle down the inclined alleyways of the Rio de Janeiro slums they call home, surf boards under their arms. They head to nearby Sao Conrado or Arpoador beach, where they catch waves and momentarily leave their impoverished lives behind. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Rocinha Surf Association, ASR, teacher Carlos Belo, right, instruct young students before entering the water at Sao Conrado brach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, July 2, 2015. ASR founder Marcio da Silva sees it as a social project, "We rescue the youth from inside the community, taking them to the beach to teach them the sport while at the same time socializing them" he says. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Robert Silva watches as boards are repaired at the Rocinha Surf Association headquarters in the Rocinha slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, July 2, 2015. Along with free surf boards and clothes, kids are taught how to maintain and fix their gear. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Robert Silva poses for a photo while fixing his board at the Rocinha Surf Association headquarters at Rocinha slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, July 2, 2015. Along with free surf boards and clothes, kids are taught how to maintain and fix their gear. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Marcio Pereira da Silva, right, founder of the Rocinha Surf Association, ASR, is helped by young surfers as they store boards at their headquarters at Rocinha slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, July 2, 2015. ASR has given free lessons to over 2,000 children from Rio’s shantytowns in the hopes of keeping the boys, who are mostly in their early teens and a few girls occupied by the sport and off the streets. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Rocinha Surf Association, ASR, teacher Carlos Belo, center, exercises young students before entering the water at Sao Conrado brach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, July 2, 2015. ASR founder Marcio da Silva sees it as a social project, "We rescue the youth from inside the community, taking them to the beach to teach them the sport while at the same time socializing them" he says. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Boards stand lined up at the Rocinha Surf Association, ASR, headquarters at Rocinha slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, July 2, 2015. ASR has given free lessons to over 2,000 children from Rio’s shantytowns in the hopes of keeping the boys, who are mostly in their early teens and a few girls occupied by the sport and off the streets. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Rafael Silva, second right, and Joao Pedro Alves, second left, prepare their surd board at the Rocinha Surf Association headquarters at Rocinha slum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, July 2, 2015. Along with free surf boards and clothes, kids are taught how to maintain and fix their gear. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Young bodyboarders from Rocinha joke with each other as they run towards the water at Sao Conrado brach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday, July 1, 2015. The youngest boys use pink, yellow and neon green bodyboards of foam, while the kids in their early teens strap leashes from their short, sturdier surfboards to their ankles before gleefully heading into the water. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
In this June 10, 2015 photo, Magno Neves surfs at Arpoador beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Neves, a 23-year-old from the Cantagalo slum, surfs nearly every day at the nearby Arpoador beach. He discovered the sport at age 8 after a surf teacher spotted him skateboarding in the slum and taught him how to surf. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
In this June 10, 2015 photo, Magno Neves dives with his board at Arpoador beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Neves, a 23-year-old from the Cantagalo slum, surfs nearly every day at the nearby Arpoador beach. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
In this June 10, 2015 photo, Magno Neves walks in an alley in the Cantagalo slum on his way to the nearby Arpoador beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. “My dream until today is to be a pro surfer,” said Neves, who works as a dog-walker to make ends meet. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
In this May 21, 2015 photo, Wesley Mario, right, and Loran de Almeida, both 13, walk back to Rocinha slum after surfing at Sao Conrado beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. “We bring children who have nothing to do to the beach, it’s the most democratic place there is, where they can feel at ease,” says Ricadro Ramos, who created the Rocinha Surf School two decades ago. “They don’t even need to pay anything to be here.” (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
In this May 21, 2015 photo, young surfers from the Rocinha slum enter the water at Sao Conrado beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Everyday barefoot boys hustle down the inclined alleyways of the Rio de Janeiro slums they call home, surf boards under their arms. They head to nearby Sao Conrado or Arpoador beach, where they catch waves and momentarily leave their impoverished lives behind. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
In this May 21, 2015 photo, Christian da Conceicao, 11, shows a signed polaroid photo of him and friends with U.S. surfer John John Florence at Sao Conrado beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Everyday barefoot boys hustle down the inclined alleyways of the Rio de Janeiro slums they call home, surf boards under their arms. They head to nearby Sao Conrado or Arpoador beach, where they catch waves and momentarily leave their impoverished lives behind. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
In this May 21, 2015 photo, young surfers from the Rocinha slum watches the waves before surfing at Sao Conrado beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Everyday barefoot boys hustle down and head to nearby Sao Conrado or Arpoador beach, where they catch waves and momentarily leave their impoverished lives behind. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
In this May 21, 2015 photo, Gabriel Santos walks with his board after surfing at Sao Conrado beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Not long ago, many of these kids were begging on the streets or engaged in crime, but two surf schools serving youth from Rio’s largest slum, Rocinha, have helped change that. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
Cristiano Gomes 'Xuxu' leaves Rocinha slum on his way to Sao Conrado beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, May 21, 2015. Before he learned how to surf at the school, his “life was pretty bad,” he says. He would juggle for spare change from motorists at the busy highway intersection at the base of the Rocinha shantytown. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
In this May 21, 2015 photo, Gabriel de Lima, 13, stretches before surfing at Sao Conrado beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Not long ago, many of these kids were begging on the streets or engaged in crime, but two surf schools serving youth from Rio’s largest slum, Rocinha, have helped change that. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION


RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — It's dawn and barefoot boys are hustling down the inclined alleys of Rio de Janeiro slums, surfboards under their arms. They're heading to nearby Sao Conrado and Arpoador beaches, where they catch waves and momentarily leave their impoverished lives behind.

The youngest boys use pink, yellow and neon green bodyboards of foam, while the teens strap leashes from their short, sturdier surfboards to their ankles before gleefully paddling out to the waves.

Not long ago, many of these kids were begging on the streets or engaged in crime, but two surf schools serving youth from Rio's largest slum, Rocinha, have helped change that. Ricadro Ramos, who created the Rocinha Surf School two decades ago, has given free lessons to over 2,000 children from Rio's shantytowns in the hopes of keeping the boys, and a few girls, occupied by the sport and off the streets.

Take 18-year-old Cristiano Gomes. Before he learned how to surf at the school, "life was pretty bad," he says. He would juggle for spare change from motorists at the busy highway intersection at the base of the Rocinha shantytown.

Now, he ranks in the Top 10 in Rio's junior surfing league. Inspired by the recent rise of Brazilians among the global surfing elite, he says he's focused on becoming the first professional to come out of the school and make a life out of the waves.

"A lot of my friends who aren't surfing don't have anything, they don't know what to do with their lives," Gomes said after recently riding waves at Sao Conrado, where pro events have been held in the past, but where sewage pollution has also kept them away. "I don't know what would have become of me without surfing."

Still, making a career out of surfing remains an elusive goal for many of surfers from the slums.

Magno Neves da Silva, a 23-year-old from the Cantagalo slum, surfs nearly every day at the nearby Arpoador beach, one of Rio's chicest. He discovered the sport at age 8 after a surf teacher spotted him skateboarding in the slum and taught him how to surf.

"My dream until today is to be a pro surfer," said Silva, who works as a dog-walker to make ends meet. He says Rio's relatively underdeveloped pro-surfing infrastructure is largely to blame.

"I still compete in championships, but there aren't many of them in Rio, so it's not easy," he said. At this stage, Silva acknowledged, his dream of living off his passion are "far from becoming reality."

___

Associated Press photographers and photo editors on Twitter: http://apne.ws/15Oo6jo .

See the latest world record for surfing below:

Record Breaking Surf Ride in Surf City

Read Full Story

People are Reading