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"Child in Park" is a "Free School" project developed inside Mangabeiras Park by Belo Horizonte City Hall. It has a multidisciplinary character and aims at stimulating children and adolescents living in the South Region of the city, and also trying to develop their self-appreciation. The project reaches a population of 180,000 (one hundred and eight thousand) people. According to the practices used in these last 3 (three) years it can be quoted as successful the experience originating from the relationship among the children, the Park, the community and the educators. This experience has become our work materials in the search for citizenship.
The Project "Child in Park" is part of the policy developed by Belo Horizonte
City Hall in assisting children and adolescents. It aims at giving the chance to exercise
their citizenship, educating them through activities that produce knowledge and improving
It started in August 1993. At first there was a partnership with the State Government through the Sports, Leisure and Tourism Secretariat (in Portuguese SELT) - "Curumim Project".
From 1994 on a partnership with the Federal Government through the Brasilian Center of Childhood and Adolescence (in Portuguese - CBIA) substituted the partnership with the State Government.
The Federal partnership ended in January 1995 with the extinction of CBIA. At this time the Levindo Coelho Municipal School was in charge of the pedagogical orientation of the project. An evaluation of these issues pointed to a redefinition of the project pedagogical orientation what put an end to the partnership with that School.
After moving away from the formal School the Project adopted the pedagogical line of
the Popular Center of Culture Development (in Portuguese - CPCD). This Center works in the
fields of Popular Education and Communitarian Development considering Culture the
instrument of its pedagogical action. Counting, then, on the financial support of the
Municipal Planning Secretariat the activities guiding the relationships between the
Community and the Park got a new identity as a result of the cooperative and participatory
experience concerning the pedagogical action of the CPCD.
Sports - The practice of soccer, handball, Olympic gymnastics and recreational games tries to provide opportunity of acquaintanceship and cooperation among children, adolescents and educators.
Environment Education - It tries to raise awareness of the need for a greater integration between Man/Nature by means of theoretical and particle classes and audiovisual aids. The particle classes consist of preparing the land, planting, cultivating and learning alternative ways of feeding benefiting from Nature.
Music - Besides attempting to increase self-knowledge it gives the children and adolescents opportunity for self-organization. As a consequence they have chance to live with other segments of society and to learn to give value for sensibility and mutual respect among citizens.
Theater/Dancing - It provides room for cultural enrichment and for grounding not only knowledge but also participants' self-appreciation of experiences through pedagogical games. These enclose different ways of expression like Folk and Afro-Brazilian Dance, Visual Arts, Capoeira (leg-wrestling - an Afro-Brazilian form of self-defense, also practiced as a sport), making sceneries, clothes, and so on.
Small Factories - It attempts at developing manual abilities aiming at giving options of raising family income and integrating participants' work to the community they belong to. The workshops produce: craftsmanship pieces (embroidery, ceramics, knitting, wood objects, and so on), cleaning products (disinfectant, detergent, soap paste) and feeding products (tomato paste, compote sweets, etc.).
Nowadays the Projects assists 180 (one hundred and eighty) children and adolescents from 7 (seven) to 14 (fourteen) years old. The participants are divided into two groups which work either in the morning or in the afternoon period from Monday to Friday. The Project counts on 8 (eight) educators. Two of them are members of the community. The Project is having federal support for this year of 1996.
It has created new possibilities for the relationship between the community and the Park and has been also assisting not only 180 (one hundred and eighty) children and adolescent, but their families as well.
The Project "Child in Park" was implemented three years ago and has been developing important aspects of individual and collective growth concerning self-knowledge and self-appreciation along these years. Some of these aspects are recorded in audiovisual media and can also be observed through the change of behavior in the children attending the Project.
To close the year there is always a multimedia presentation of the contents taught during the class period. Those contents acquire form through the language of circus-theater, popular arts, music presentations, craftsmanship, agricultural and feeding production.
Nowadays the Circus-Theater Workshop maintains small groups preparing sketches and working in circus techniques as ring jugglery, equilibrists, rollers, fire spitter, and so on.
The Popular Arts Workshop practices Folk Dance and Capoeira (leg-wrestling).
The Music Workshop has a musical group which includes singing and musical instruments. The songs are chosen by the participants. Besides this it also has a rhythm improvisation group. A large number of children and adolescents have been taking basic music theory.
The work on Environmental Education is based on the importance of environment conservation. Therefore the pedagogical practices adopted are: the recognition of the existing fauna and fora and an attempt to teach the participants how to live in harmony with Nature. There is also selective garbage collecting in the polluted areas. Moreover we try to make the the participants aware of the risks of forest fires and how to prevent them. Awareness is also raised concerning our topography and the benefits and the importance of keeping the water of springs and streams clean.
Concerning craftsmanship the Workshop produces: painting in ceramics, tapestries, embroideries, knitting and wood objects. These practices gave birth to a Support Workshop that works as small factories producing cleaning products like soap, detergents, tomato paste and compote sweets. Nowadays the Project can count on a group of child and adolescent monitors prepared by the own dynamics of the pedagogical process. We also include community participation through a group of adult monitors from the community.
The results of the Project "Child in Park" is due to team work and partnerships along these last 3 (three) years. The Project is a model that can be adopted in Urban Parks that have communities in their neighborhood. The Project maintenance and credibility depends on the quality of Education that can be summarized in one sentence: "Learn doing". Therefore this is considered an alternative model of project.
Parque das Mangabeiras (Mangabeiras Park)
Belo Horizonte City Hall / Belo Horizonte Municipal Secretariat/Mangabeirak
Association of Vila Mar§la Dwellers
Association of Friends of Mangabeiras Park
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