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Samba for kids: An inside look at one of Rio’s Samba schools
Pimpolhos da Grande Rio Samba School (Kids of Grande Rio Samba School) is a non-governmental and non-profit organisation for children, whose vision is focused on promoting social inclusion through art and culture. We spoke to Camilla, who works for Pimpolhos to find out more…
Tell us a bit about your background with Samba schools?
I grew up in Rio. My family was always very involved within the Samba community, especially my father, and so from a young age, I was going to Samba school. Everyone in the family gets involved – all generations from the grandparents to the children.
What is Pimpolhos da Grande Rio Samba School?
Pimpolhos started as a Samba school for children. It now does very many things with education at schools and social work. Everything is about getting children involved within the community through the arts and offering lifelong learning opportunities to them and their families.
How did you come up with the initiative to grow the Samba School?
When I was 21, I got closer to the Samba school when I began helping with the parades a little more. We wanted more children to be involved in this community. The next step therefore seemed obvious – to get schools involved, considering it is a children’s samba school. We got involved by going into schools and focussing on educational themes – we would talk about cities, the environment, and famous people – and together the children would be educated and had fun!
What was the local reaction to what you were trying to do?
The government loved our initiative –and it has been excellent to see the local community really getting involved.
Were there any major challenges you faced?
The biggest challenge is now, as they need to create mechanisms for self-sustainability. We now need to focus on new approaches that will bring revenue to the institution and ensure the cultural projects have longevity. The first generation has passed through the initiative, and even though we can see the positive results, it is difficult to measure this and show the successes that we are having in helping the children of Rio. We have now hired a consultant to look into this as we want to prove the differences we are making.
Please tell us an inspiring story of how your initiative has helped a child.
Oh, there are so many! One girl I can tell you about grew up in a very dangerous community with gangs. With our guidance, she now works in a hotel, speaks perfect English and is doing very well.
What is your favourite part of what you do?
Hard to say – everything!
What are your visions and aims for Pimpolhos for the future?
I want to give visitors a chance to experience the real behind-the-scenes carnival – the background, the history, the kids, the community involvement, the African roots, all the construction of the floats and the 4,000 costumes. It’s a huge and steady market and would definitely help with the sustainability of our project. We look forward to telling tourists all about our project!
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Have a look at one of our itineraries based around Rio Carnival for some carnival inspiration. This trip offers the perfect introduction to Rio’s exhilarating Carnival and includes time exploring the charming coastal town of Parati and ending on the beach in swanky Buzios. Call us on 020 7622 1116 to start planning a tailor-made trip.