“Thinking of the future attracts and challenges us. Changing the future, however, depends on changing the way we think in the present. The future starts today. And nothing is more fascinating than giving someone the opportunity to create his own future.”
Fani Lerner’s first major initiative on behalf of children began in 1980 when she organized a network of 400 volunteers called the Municipal Provopar to perform social work in the state of Parana, Brazil. The program drastically changed the face of social work in Parana and became an example to the rest of the country.
In 1989, Lerner took office as the Secretary for Children’s Affairs in the city of Curitiba and in 1995, became the State Secretary for Children and Family Affairs. During these terms, she created 16 programs for adolescents and needy children. These programs provide children with vocational training, homeless shelters, food baskets, day-care centers, soup kitchens and cultural opportunities. Lerner constructed 525 day-care centers in an eight-year period, providing care to 485,000 children. Her numerous centers are especially significant in Brazil, where the average city only builds three day-care centers each year.
Creating Citizens offers children and adolescents recreational, cultural and athletic activities as an alternative to street life. It also provides health programs, professional workshops and educational activities for the 2,000 participants. Pia das Flores creates special housing and schools for disabled children. The program also teaches the children a profession, allowing them to become more self-sufficient. From Streets to Schools offers families food baskets as an incentive for keeping their children in school. Eighty thousand children have left the streets to continue their education through the support provided by this program.
Lerner also implemented the Council for Children and Adolescents Rights throughout Parana’s 399 municipalities, a program that oversees state policies on children and adolescents. Lerner dedicated her life to social initiatives for children.