Bergamo, 16 June 2023 – It’s a busy year for CAPACITyES – Children Against Poverty Awake the city Education System, the project funded by the Urban Innovative Actions program.
On 4 February we inaugurated the new Co-housing units in Via Borgo Palazzo, in the former Hall 8 of the ASST center.
On May 4 we held an “open day” dedicated to the Co-housing, a day of celebration and sharing for the 11 families living in the building. These families joined the project 3 years ago, starting a journey together: through active participation and with the help of neighbourhood social connections, we’ve been working to foster collaborative living, involve citizens and improve social cohesion.
Now it’s time to celebrate again, for the CAPACITyES project, the Municipality of Bergamo, the partners, the neighborhood and all the community. Today we unveiled the HUB for KIDS with a joyful ceremony, with councillors Loredana Poli (Education, university, training, sport and leisure, youth policies, school and sports buildings), Marcella Messina (Social Policies) and Marco Brembilla (Public Works).
New ideas against educational poverty
The HUB for KIDS is a welcoming structure designed to host activities for children and teenagers of Bergamo, with a focus on arts and sports. To create it CAPACITyES has carefully redeveloped Cascina Serassi, an old traditional farmhouse.
HUB for KIDS is a flexible space and it will always be open to innovation: it’s a beautiful and welcoming structure, but above all the HUB is a practical tool to combat educational poverty.
How? Expanding the opportunities for cultural and social participation of children and teens, involving organisations and social connections.
During the summer the former Cascina Serassi will host HUB for Summer, a summer camp for children aged 6 to 11: five weeks of activities, five different themes, many experiences. HUB for Summer will focus on creativity, the desire to learn and have fun and the opportunity to develop skills and autonomy through many different activities. It’s the result of substantial work carried out by the CAPACITyES partners that are more directly involved in this challenge: AFP Patronato San Vincenzo, Generazioni FA and CSI Bergamo.
The meaning of HUB for KIDS
“The inauguration of this space dedicated to children and teens minors, enriches the panorama of spaces, offers, actions and projects that the City Council, in network with other partners, offers to families, children and teens. This centre will interact closely with the Rita Gay Municipal Family Centre, which works on parenting support, to provide educational activities aimed especially at young families. The Hub will also host initiatives aimed at different age groups, up to 17 years of age. The partners have organised laboratories and summer activities and over time will propose more comprehensive, continuous and recursive projects”. Loredana Poli, Councillor for Education and Youth Policies
“With today’s inauguration we complete a project that came to life in February 2023 with the opening of the Co-housing. The HUB is open to the neighbourhood and to the whole city, with a wide range of activities designed for a broad target of kids and teens. It’s linked to the Co-housing in a plan to create aggregation and cultural, social and educational integration. I’m sure that this project of collaborative living, with its training and learning programmes for the families, will bring into the HUB and into the community new resources, new human and cultural energies that are valuable for us all”. Marcella Messina, Councillor for Social Policy
The building: a careful restoration
“The restoration project has followed the principles of protection and enhancement of the old building, trying to combine the goal of minimal intervention, the safety standards and the need to provide suitable spaces. Today the new HUB for KIDS has a gross surface area of 260 square meters per floor and over 800 square meters of outdoor spaces.
We identified two age groups, 0 to 6 years and 7 to 18 years, and we organised the building according to their needs. On the ground floor there are three laboratories and the play area for children, while the upper floor, in the former barn of the farmhouse, is now a large multifunctional room with a wooden roof truss.
The ground floor is equipped with a staff office and a small kitchen, while upstairs there are the changing rooms. All rooms are flexible, with removable furniture and modular solutions that allow easy adjustements of the layout of every space”. Marco Brembilla, Councillor for Public Works
CAPACITyES: the project
In 2019 the city of Bergamo has won funding under one of the most important European programmes: UIA, Urban Innovative Actions. This is a European Community project that funds innovative solutions for territorial and social regeneration in urban areas. Bergamo’s project tackles the issues of urban poverty and children’s right to housing and education.
The Municipality of Bergamo leads the project, with many partners: social cooperatives Ruah and Patronato San Vincenzo, the Association of Vocational Training Patronato San Vincenzo, Purelab, Generazioni FA, CSI Bergamo and ISMU – Fondazione Iniziative e Studi sulla Multietnicità.
The CAPACITyES project involves the redevelopment of two properties in degraded conditions. The Co-housing in Borgo Palazzo and the HUB for KIDS in Via Serassi have been designed and will be managed in collaboration with the families involved, thanks to forms of active participation and with the help of neighborhood social networks, in order to promote the involvement of citizens and improve social cohesion.
The point of view of children was fundamental in this process and will be for the future: kids played a leading role in the co-design of spaces and initiatives.
Along the route from Borgo Palazzo to Via Serassi, the artist Luogo Comune has created 10 murals dedicated to the Odyssey and inspired by the drawings of the little protagonists of the CAPACITyES creative workshops. Children from 6 to 11 years have read about Ulysses’ journey and their drawing have become inspirational reference for the artist. The adventures of Ulysses and his return home in fact represent the common thread of a project that reflected on the idea of home: “home is where you feel welcomed”.