The finale of a project supported by Almancil International Rotary Club came to fruition last Thursday, June 27 when eight youngsters from the “Akredita em Ti” association showed off their newly-acquired skills to friends and supporters at Pinetrees Riding in Almancil.
“Akredita em Ti”, which means “Believe in Yourself”, is run by coordinator Sónia Luz, who creates a haven for less privileged youngsters and those at risk in Quarteira. These children are nurtured by her team to become more fulfilled through sport, education and knowing someone cares about them.
Sónia had heard about the work done at Pinetrees in using the horse to de-velop people through horseriding but wanted to know if the riding school would take on eight of her most challenging children.
After careful assessment of candidates and creating objectives, the project was ready to search for financial support. Almancil Rotary stepped in and agreed to sponsor the pilot scheme of six sessions.
Sessions consisted of 30 minutes on horseback but were also preceded by time to bond with the horse through brushing and caring and learning how to saddle up. It has to be said that the children were never late for the bus to bring them to the centre!
The finale consisted of preparing the horses and then dressing up in white breaches, polished riding boots, and riding hat.
Riders proudly showed their skills to ride their horses through an obstacle course, demonstrating their decision-making and team work with their horse.
Half-way though the morning there were two surprise visitors for the children: two mounted policemen came riding by from the Loulé GNR. They were invit-ed to join the proceedings by Beverley Gibbons, owner of Pinetrees, and they created a great rapport with the children through the medium of the horse.
Accompanied by much applause, rosettes for achievement were presented by the presidents of the Almancil and Quarteira parish councils, Joaquim Pinto and Telmo Pinto, respectively, and representatives of Loulé Council, Cristina Teixeira and Neusa Saraiva. David Thomas of Safe Communities Portugal and Almancil Rotary President Mark Hulit also presented rosettes.
Afterwards everyone mingled and enjoyed the outdoors in pleasant sunshine and ate cake.