An association with a dream

by SOPHIE MCCARRICK [email protected]

A multinational initiative in the eastern Algarve is reaching out to foreign Algarve residents to promote community togetherness and higher involvement in local motivational activities.

The Dream Association is an established project in Vila Real de Santo António, with accommodation provided by the City Hall located on Rua 1 Maio 44.

Although founded two years ago by Willemijn Van Den Brink, new Coordinator Janet Shook Leitao from the United States has recently introduced a fresh bilingual programme that was implemented in February aimed at the whole community, national and international.

On a weekly basis, there are around 25 adults and 20 children attending classes with the Dream Association and many participants attend more than one activity throughout the week, sometimes as many as five activities.

Many activities

Learning in a fun and playful way is highly practiced with the Dream group, who believe that individuals of all ages that interact in a non-judgmental environment are more motivated.

All lessons are given in an exploratory manner with no technical guidelines or expectations, which promotes the development of self confidence.  

The new programme features a wide range of activities including Yoga (16+), Stretching at Monte Gordo beach (all ages), Moms and Tots in two different age groups (babies 0-2 and 2-4), Play Work Club (5-16), Creative Crafts (all ages), English lessons (adults 16+), Draw and Paint (5-16), Street Dance (5-12 and 12+), Nia Dance (16+ and 12+), Oriental Dance (16+ and 12+), Painting and Poetry (16+) and Yoga Relax (16+), which take place over a seven day schedule.

Janet Shook Leitao told the Algarve Resident: “We are a non-profit association providing healthy, playful, educative activities to the community at very low tuition prices of €1 for children and €2 for adults. We are able to subsidise the class tuition with the proceeds from our second-hand store at our location.”

The Dream Association’s second-hand store, The Dream Shop (Loja Sonhar) sells a wide variety of items including men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, home decoration, furniture and more, all at very reasonable prices to help cover expenses of classes and materials.

“We believe re-using quality items is ecological. In many cultures and in urban areas of Portugal buying second hand is cool. It is a way to express more individuality and creativity through the clothes you wear.  Some people have a stigma attached to it, that it is only for people without money, but we think of it as a link in the community, that we are sharing resources and of course style (also read article ‘Wardrobe dilemmas’ on page 10),” said Janet Shook Leitao.

All donations at The Dream Shop are greatly appreciated and the association is also currently in desperate need of more volunteers.

“In these times here in Portugal, there can be an ambiance of doom and crisis and a focus on financial limitations. From an outside perspective, I see also a lot of cultural limitations on what people are willing to try and to do. More than anything now, we need to be keeping our morale up and improving ourselves, learning new skills, improving our physical and emotional well-being, being with new and interesting people all contribute to a higher quality of life. The Dream Association wants to offer that in a very accessible way,” she said.

The group has an open door policy, which means all are welcome to attend classes and that there are no inscriptions necessary upon enrollment. Those wishing to participate simply must just show up, write down their name and pay their small tuition fee.

A “Christmas in March” sale is being held on March 25 at the association, which will sell winter coats, Christmas decorations, toys and some new clothes as well. It takes place from 10am to 5pm.

For more information about The Dream Association, please contact Janet Janet Shook Leitao on 927 393 217, email [email protected] or visit their facebook page at Associação Sonhar.

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