Young people for change – Italy

13 July 2023

The Ciro Colonna Centre is one of the best practices that will be presented during the Social Cooperative International School. An example of community regeneration in one of the most difficult neighbourhoods of Naples.

In Ponticelli – a district on the outskirts of Naples, with problems of legality and a fragile social network, there was once a disused school building. One day

the association “Maestri di Strada” decided to develop a project to bring it back to life. This is how the Ciro Colonna Multipurpose Centre was born. The Center is a place of aggregation that aims to promote the active citizenship of young people by giving them space, attention and support and providing them with tools to become ‘adults for change’, combating school and social drop-out for the benefit of the entire community.

The Center was renewed thanks to the support of several social enterprises, foundations, volunteers, and professionals that accepted the challenge, providing funds, knowledge, and time, taking care of the surrounding greenery, and setting up workshops and training courses useful to, young and old visitors, to make the space open and safe.  The philosophy is simple:

The Centre is a school but also a construction site: the people who cross this place follow classes, study, and learn a profession, and, above all, they build the person while rebuilding the Centre, solving those emotional, relational, economic, and technic al problems that are connected with living together.

Twenty-one classrooms, a gymnasium and canteen, an indoor auditorium, and an outdoor amphitheater are intended to be the ‘arena of redemption’ for all those people who want a better life and a better place to live. For this reason, the Centre was named after Ciro Colonna, a young innocent victim of the Camorra, who was killed in Ponticelli at the age of 19.

Today, the building is a place for music, theatre, visual arts, carpentry, and cooking workshops, a study hall with an adjoining library, an urban vegetab

le garden, an area dedicated to children, one to territorial education, and one to psychological support for young people and parents, and sports activities are organised in the gym and courtyard.

In three of the Centre’s classrooms, the Bambù Social Cooperative runs the Territorial Education Workshop (LET), hosting around 50 young people between the ages of 6 and 16. The aim is to accompany them in their individual and social growth and development, pooling their energies around a specific project to develop their collective and personal skills and self-awareness. The youngsters immediately put the workshops to good use by staging Marcello D’Orta’s ‘Io speriamo che me la cavo’, improvised on the themes of emigration, abandonment, and the difficulties of those left behind, accompanied by the rhythms of

the classical Neapolitan songs and popular dances.

The president of the Coop. Bambù Giovanpaolo Gaudino recalls “what happened with our last theatre workshop is paradigmatic. An activity dedicated to all age groups. Everyone showed a great desire to be protagonists, to get involved, and to push themselves beyond what were their personal limits, under the guidance of their educators, experts in the field. It was an important path because it allowed the young people to experience protagonism, personal success, and collaboration with others, learning how to organise their work to set up a show. Vincenzo (invented name), in his farewell speech after leaving the Centre, said that the Workshop is a magical place where you learn to overcome personal problems. The families of the children are also involved. They periodically meet with the operators to share their children’s educational paths. The dinner in the pizzeria to celebrate the past year’s successes was attended by 70 people including children and educators. It was a moment of real community and sharing: the right start for the summer activities.”

The Bambù social cooperative will lead participants of the Social Cooperatives International School (SCIS2023) to discover the Ciro Colonna Centre during the session on 7 October “CoopsCare: from the European Strategy a push to innovate assistance and care”.

You haven’t registered to attend the SCIS2023 yet? Find here all the information you need!