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ITALY: Salesian Urban Re-GenerAction project helps communities create beautiful spaces and opportunities for social good

(MissionNewswire) More than 400 youth have taken part in the Salesian project, “Urban Re-GenerAction: young ideas in the urban outskirts. Experiences of active and supportive citizenship for/with the new generations.” Currently nearing its conclusion, the project was launched in July 2017. Since then, 16 programs have participated facilitated by the Salesians of Social Welfare (also known as the SCS/CNOS Federation) and the socio-cultural youth clubs, Italian Youth and Social Tourism and Cinecircoli Giovanili Socioculturali.

The project aims to provide strategies to educational facilities on how to promote forms of active citizenship and social solidarity among youth. It serves as a way for youth to engage in projects that help clean up their communities and make them more beautiful. Participants gain the opportunity to understand community challenges and provide ideas on how to make things better.

“It was very interesting to listen to these young people and see the videos they made regarding the activities carried out,” says Father Giovanni d’Andrea, president of the Salesians for Social Affairs. “Given the number of centers involved, there was a cross-section of Italy included in the project. There were several centers that engaged in community projects in the suburbs where they live. The hope is that what has been set in motion may continue with additional community activities even after the conclusion of the project in January 2019.”

Many Salesian centers were excited about the projects they were able to undertake. The director of the Salesian center, Il Faro, in Ancona said, “The desire of our youth was to create a more beautiful space for families engaged with social services of Ancona. Youth chose to create a design that the parents and the children will see when they meet. Many of these families have been separated so there is often worry about emotional distance, sadness and challenges. This brightens up the space. Youth who created the art are trying to give beauty back to those who, for a moment, risk losing it.”

The Salesians of Social Welfare organization has been working to promote a better quality of life for disadvantaged youth for 24 years. In 2016, close to 9,000 at-risk youth received educational and social development services through Salesian programs throughout Italy under the organization’s direction.

The primary recipients of this support are minors and youth who are in situations of social vulnerability including those under the care of Italy’s child protection system. Many of these youth are engaged in Salesian programs that include family child care homes and community housing, childcare centers for academic support, youth groups and foster parent networks.

Italy, Europe’s third-largest economy, has close to 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.



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