"The general idea is that the foreign-born and native Swedes should get to know each other in a natural way. It works great here and the interest is very big," project manager Emma Andersson told the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet.
According to the newspaper, the riding club's weekly meetings are teeming with knowledge-hungry refugee children, many of whom have never ridden a horse before. Ulla Andersson at the riding club said that it was particularly important that the refugee children meet the riding girls at the club.
"They are the alpha and the omega. The fact that we are a bunch of older guys here does not matter, it's the integration with other young people that is important, and also fun when it works. I hope both sides think so," Ulla Andersson told Aftonbladet.
"Riding is for everyone. It does not matter where you come from or how old you are, you can still ride horses," Cornelia Larsson said.
The unorthodox equestrianism project has stirred a hot debate on Swedish social media. Some users thought it was unfair of the municipality to offer immigrant kids a free opportunity, while Swedish kids still have to pay for it. Others voiced fears of violence and abuse as Swedish girls and foreign-born adolescents are teamed together.
The idea of a camel center in the middle of Sweden was ridiculed in the Swedish social media, whereas Expressen's columnist Naomi Abramowicz found the idea of inviting immigrants to work with animals racist.
"Thus, the vision for Gothenburg's troubled suburbs is as follows: camels, goats and horse-drawn lawn mowers. And then a splash of camel milk for better health," Naomi Abramowicz wrote derisively.
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