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Centro Educacional Cantinho da Natureza

Origin and History

Founded in 1973 as an outreach activity of the Santa Cruz de Capacabana Catholic Parish in the Morro dos Cabritos neighborhood (urban slum) of Rio de Janiero, Cantinho da Natureza was designed originally in response to the dramatic need of mothers for quality child care for their children during working hours. The Cantinho da Natureza began as a nursery school for the youngest children of the neighborhood, and has expanded over time to provide integrated developmental, educational, health and pysco-social services to children ranging form 0 to 15 years of age and their families.


To contribute to the decrease of vulnerability of the population that lives in the slum of Morro do Cabritos by improving the socio-economic, educational, health, and social situation of children, adolescents and adults in the community.

The mission of the Canthino da Natureza has three dimensions:

  • to improve the general well-being of children in both the pre-school and elementary age groups
  • to increase elementary and middle school attendance and improve their learning progress
  • to provide at risk adolescents and youth with informal educational programs and to assist youth and adults on their path towards adulthood by helping the find adequate employment and strengthen their marketable skills

Attempts to fulfill this mission are expressed through several concrete goals:

1)      provide quality early childhood education for pre-school aged children

2)      reduce malnutrition among children

3)      increase the educational level of children and adults, including basic literacy

4)      improve employment and income prospects of adults

5)      improve family relationships

A very important part of this context is the educational proposal of Cantinho which is comprised of several elements.  First, there is the fact that every child has infinite value.  Second, education serves as an introduction to reality.  Third, education serves as a proposal to start children on a road where they are helped to positively face reality in every circumstance.  Lastly, the Cantinho emphasizes the family as having the primary responsiblity for the education of their children.


Morro dos Cabritos is a slum located on the hillside between the towns of Copcabana and Botafogo, in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.  Morro dos Cabritos (“Hill of the Goats”) is home to around 7,000 inhabitants who live in extremely depressed conditions, with minimal income, high levels of violence propelled by drug active drug trafficking, and poor health and educational opportunities.


Program Areas and Activities

Educational Day Care Center: the educational center was expanded from a nursery school (crèche) for 80 children to become a multi-functional center, it includes a full-day of child care and schooling for children ages 0-4 who attend from 7:30am to 5:30pm and receive four meals.

After School Programs: teachers operate an after school program for school aged children where they can get help with their homework, attend literacy programs, receive computer training,  and participate in social activities such as sports and games.

Young Adult Programs: young men and women ages 16 to 24 benefit from vocational training as well as social and recreational programs designed to provide meaningful and lasting relationships which help them as they confront difficulties in the life after school.

Adult Education: Evening classes in various subjects are offered for adults.  An example might be a baking class offered for women.  These classes are meant to be educative and contribute to the overall well-being of the family.  Continuing education is also available for adults wanting to complete their high school education.

Vocational Training: Vocational training and job-readiness training programs are also available for adults and adolescents who are looking to enter the workforce.  The Cantinho is also planning a job fair to address unemployment problems in the area.

Health: Health services and awareness fairs are held to create and strengthen the links between the community and the health providers, as well as to increase awareness of healthy behaviors among the community of Morro dos Cabritos. Special attention is given to the needs of seniors and children.


Additional Resources


Cantinho da Natureza Website

YouTube Informational Spot