ITALY: Salesian Project Provides Afterschool Tutoring and Activities for Disadvantaged Youth
(MissionNewsire) The Salesian Emera project, operated by the Salesian Small Steps Big Dreams Association, provides services to youth to aid them in their studies and provides enjoyable after school activities. There are 130 youth between the ages of 6 and 17 years who participate in the project including six youth who had dropped out of school for more than a year and are preparing to return to school for the eighth grade. Youth involved in the project come from several cities in Naples including Torre Annunziata, Boscoreale, Boscotrecase and Trecase.
Through the project, youth are supported in their studies and engage in recycling workshops and pottery, football, volleyball, handicrafts and painting on glass. Youth spend time after school working on their homework and being tutored in subjects where they struggle. The project provides a safe, supportive atmosphere run by several Salesian educators.
“Many youth need the extra support to do well in school and this project provides that along with so much more,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Through the project, youth are able to connect with their peers while learning new skills including the arts and sports, which teaches teamwork, problem solving and socialization skills.”
Several of the youth in the program became actors, choreographers, set designers, dancers, and singers and created the show “Guys in trouble” staged at the Salesian theater. During the show, Father Antonio Carbone, president of the Small Steps Big Dreams Association thanked the municipal institutions that support the project. The mayor of Torre Annunziata, Joshua Starita, greeted the youth and their families and noted that the area’s cities believed in them and it is a duty on the part of the state to give equal opportunities in life to all citizens, particularly young people. The production reinforced how important the project is to local youth and the communities in which they live.
Europe’s third-largest economy, Italy has close to 2 million children live in poverty, according to UNICEF. With more than 25 percent of the country’s children living in poverty, Italy has the highest percentage of child poverty out of all 25 European countries. The poverty rate has risen in the wake of Europe’s economic crisis and 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.
Some youth are unable to attend school and others drop out to work at the few jobs available to them. A growing number of children work as laborers on farms and others have turned to the sex trade to help support their families. Those in poverty often live without adequate shelter, hot water, regular meals and health care. 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 schools, youth centers and vocational training programs are educating poor youth and providing important social and vocational skills in Italy. The goal is to provide youth with the educational and job skills that will bring them livable wage employment and the opportunity to give back to their communities.
UNICEF – Italy Poverty