ITALY: Renovation to increase support for youth
Don Bosco Oratory in Schio celebrates 120 years of providing support and education
(MissionNewswire) Don Bosco Oratory in Schio, Italy, is celebrating 120 years of providing support and education for youth. The oratory brings together marginalized youth in the community for education, connection with peers and an opportunity to connect with supportive adults.
In 2022, the oratory is planning a major renovation to improve support to the city’s youth. The project will start with the soccer field and school and be followed by the theater and cinema.
“One hundred and twenty years is a long time,” said Father Enrico Gaetan, rector of Don Bosco Oratory. “I have been here for two years now, and the nice thing that happens to me when I go around town is hearing all the people who remember, for one thing or another, that they passed through the oratory.”
The multi-faceted Don Bosco Oratory offers sports and cultural activities, training and education, and fun social activities. Today, more than 800 young people are enrolled in sports associations such as basketball, volleyball and soccer, 350 children attend the school, and 80 participate in after-school activities. The oratory also offers volunteer opportunities, a cafe, a cinema, missionary groups and choirs.
Fr. Gaetan added, “The oratory was created to educate young people. Ever since the Salesians were called here there has always been educational and formative work. Now this action is done with two divisions in the oratory including associations and sport and with school and vocational training activity.”
The fundamental mission of Salesians and the oratory is to welcome children and older youth who are in need of support. Many are living on the sidelines of the community. Fr. Gaetan explained, “The oratory welcomes many young people who live on the street, in gangs or groups, but who know that here, with some rules, they can find a place. There are still many cases of deviance, where adult supervision is lacking or single parents who cannot do everything. The oratory is a home for them too, and the courtyard is the meeting point.”
In Italy, young people who are unemployed and not in school or training programs represent 20 percent of the population. Vocational training is an educational path that serves as a highly effective bridge between school and work.
Italy has close to 1.2 million children living in poverty, according to UNICEF. The poverty rate has risen in the wake of Europe’s economic crisis. Unemployment is at its highest level since the late 1970s with the overall jobless rate at 12.5 percent and youth unemployment as high as 41 percent.
According to UNICEF, a growing number of youth are living away from their families in temporary shelters and within government and charity programs because of inadequate support from or neglect by their families. Salesian programs work to combat these challenges by providing shelter, nutrition, education and workforce development services for youth in need.
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Salesian Missions – Italy
UNICEF – Italy Poverty