May 28 2010
Royals and Olympians visit SOS Children's Village in Brazil
28/05/2010 - On 18 May, Princess Mathilde and an entourage of Belgian entrepreneurs visited the SOS Children's Village in São Paulo-Poá to confirm their support to the project "Esporte para Todos" (Sports for All). Olympic medallists in Beijing 2008, Brazilian Maurren Maggi (gold medal in women's long jump) and Belgian Kim Gevaert (silver medal in the women's 4X100m) were also special guests at this event which started with a press conference.
Princess Mathilde from Belgium was warmely welcomed by the children from Poá - Photo: SOS Archives
Kick-off by a Princess
The project “Esporte para Todos” aims to promote the participation of children and youths in sports activities, to support the development of their potentials through sport and to create child-friendly spaces. Moreover, it seeks to motivate the community of Poá in São Paulo to organise local sportive championships which should also help to reduce problems like violence, drug abuse, low self-esteem and unemployment amongst youngsters.
Additionally, the sport field and the building's infrastructure (e.g. dressing rooms) for 150 children and adolescents from five to 18 years from the Poá community and other beneficiaries from SOS programmes will be renovated. This project, supported by Belgian entrepreneurs, also includes the maintenance for five years.
Accompanied by the two athletes, Princess Mathilde also visited one of the 13 family houses of the SOS Children's Village Poá and even kicked off a football match played by 20 children from Poá.
Present in the event were also some local authorities as the First Lady of Poá and the Secretary Representative of the mayor of Poá who gave the Princess a basket with typical regional products.
Maurren Maggi and Kim Gevaert for the good cause
Family integration (from left: Princess Mathilde, Maurren Maggi, Kim Gevaert) - Photo: SOS Archives
"It is a project that aims to integrate children into society thus they can have a future free from drugs and violence. At first I got an invitation to welcome Kim, but now I want to take part in the project and I hope to be a role model for the children. I also want to motivate these children to practice sports and - who knows - maybe one day they can be introduced to the Olympic cycle", said Maurren Maggi.
Being warmly welcomed by the children, Maurren said that their love gives her more strength to try to achieve the same performance at the Olympic Games in London in two years as in Beijing, where she won the gold medal in the long jump. "Meeting the children always gives me strength. It's really nice to see them looking up to you, being so lovely. I hope that it makes me even more motivated."
Kim Gevaert, who decided to end her successful athletics career in 2008, keeps close to sports through her commitment in various projects. Since 2006, she is an ambassador for SOS Children's Villages in Belgium. "I hope this partnership grows and that I can come back to Brazil some other time. To take part in initiatives to help children makes me very happy", declared Kim.
SOS Children's Villages in Brazil
The SOS Children's Village Poá in São Paulo was founded 41 years ago; 114 children and youngsters are currently living in Poá. The family strengthening programme supports 590 children from three to 14 years age. Another two SOS Children's Villages and various social programmes are located in the megacity of São Paulo, while in total there are 60 SOS projects in Brazil for some 8,400 children.