In the neighborhood of Ostia, one of the most degraded of the Roman periphery and the heart of the Mafia, a new educational and recreational center seeks to keep children and adolescents away from crime and illuminate a future that was bleak.
For years, the violent struggle for territory between several mafia clans had turned this enclave of the Roman coast into an area not suitable for families, who began to abandon it, which caused a year ago the closure of one of the few schools in the place , Renato Gattuso.
It was Save the Children, in collaboration with Bulgari, who bid for this 1,200 square meter building, and turned it into a "Luce dell Arti Point", a point of light in which "art is an instrument of emancipation "For teenagers, according to Efe Elio Lo Cascio, the head of this NGO for the" Luce Point "in Rome.
"They are peripheries lacking any service, it is difficult to find a cinema, a theater or a museum," explains Lo Cascio, who adds that the activities carried out by the center (film, photography or design workshops), normal for any child, " they represent for these young people an extraordinary experience "in that cultural desert that is Ostia.
Now the abandoned school is a modern center designed by Bulgari designers, who have left their mark with bright colors, in warm ranges, which symbolize the "light" that now illuminates this neighborhood.
A PLACE OF BELONGING OPEN TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD
The teenagers leave school and go directly to the "Luce Point", many without going home, to do their homework with the help of educators, and then, starting at 4:00 p.m., start the activities, which start from the " parkour "(the favorite of the boys) until the drawing of comics, going through theater or rap workshops.
"The young people recognize the center as a place of belonging," says the coordinator of the "Luce Point" of Ostia, Sara Forlani, who sees no stigmatization towards the kids who come to the place in the afternoon.
The center is open to children between 6 and 18 years of age in the neighborhood, and even the children of the gangster "bonnets" attend, they recognize sources of the organization, although the conflict that strikes these streets has not moved within the walls of the center.
The only competitiveness is in the gym, during basketball or volleyball games, or in the music room, where the boys improvise rhymes, or imitate those of the most famous Italian rappers.
Through these activities, young people not only learn professional skills, but also develop "soft skills," Forlani points out, such as "motivation, critical thinking or self-determination."
The objective is that the kids "stimulate themselves and find a passion, build their own personal project," according to Lo Cascio, something that they would have difficult because of the distance (physical and symbolic) to the work and cultural opportunities of the city center.
"A COUNTRY PROHIBITED FOR CHILDREN"
The one in Ostia represents "Point Luce" number 25 of Save the Children, an initiative that has opened centers in the most disadvantaged neighborhoods of Italian cities since 2014, something that according to the head of the organization in Rome "fills gaps" in the child care provided by the State.
"The 'Luce Point' cannot eliminate educational poverty, but they represent an incentive for new services to be born for children in the peripheries," says Lo Cascio.
According to the NGO, Italy is "a country forbidden for minors", as there are more and more children in poverty, from 3.7% in 2008 to 12.5% of children in 2018, figures that skyrocket in the southern regions, such as bleeding 42.8% of child poverty in Calabria.
According to Lo Cascio, "in the face of the crisis, many countries in Europe have increased investment in the future, in young people", while Italy has done "quite the opposite."
Another of the samples of this forbidden country are spaces for young people, many of them abandoned, such as the Skatepark of Ostia, a few meters from the "Luce Point", and it was a meeting place for teenagers, but today it is closed And in ruins.
"It was the last bulwark of sport, of belonging, of the encounter," laments Forlani, who explains that after its closure the young people spent the afternoons "wandering the neighborhood."
Now, however, the more than 300 kids enrolled in the "Luce Point" spend the afternoon here, between sports, crafts and music, closer to opportunities that, on the periphery of the periphery, could hardly be accessed.
. (tagsToTranslate) illuminate (t) future (t) young (t) periphery (t) Roman