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Animal Magic

A mare called Camila, a rabbit named Doce, Rafael the lamb, and two dogs called Collie and Cuca were this afternoon at the Christmas Village, in front of the Town Hall, Funchal.

For a few moments, the children diverted their attention from the attractions of the park, in Largo do Município, to play with their new four-legged friends.

Only a few of the animals from Quinta da Caldeira, in Camacha, were on site, where, in partnership with CRESCER – Child Development Support Center, an equine therapy/hippotherapy service is provided, aimed at children with developmental pathologies.

Docile, and trained to live and work with children, the animals provided moments of joy to the children, all corresponding to the objectives of the director of CRESCER, Ana Marques.

“We have some children here who already use the farm therapy facility and others who, for the first time, are having the opportunity to interact with these amazing animals. By coming here we wanted to give that joy to the children and at the same time highlight the project, where we use animals for therapeutic purposes (not just horse riding) in a grow-through-play approach. Through the farm animals we seek to facilitate communication, socialisation, and sensory integration skills in a natural setting,” explained the therapist.

The services at Quinta da Caldeira are open to all children and not just those with specialised or educational needs, and today the children were seen positively interacting with all the animals around them.

This activity in the Christmas Village had the support of the Funchal City Council. Watching was Pedro Calado, with his family. In a conversation with JM, the Mayor highlighted the “resilience and willpower” of all professionals who work daily with children with special needs.

“They demonstrate an ability to overcome all difficulties and we have only one way left, which is to support and create positive living environments. We are in partnership with CRESCER and other entities that work in this area, and support them financially and logistically.”

The initiative helped to promote a more inclusive Christmas Village and foster the interaction of all children (with and without health problems) with animals.

Samantha Gannon

info at

Image: JM

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