Thursday, March 21, saw the opening of the educational center designed to enhance the educational and school experience of hospitalized children.

Florence, March 13, 2024 – The Andrea Bocelli Foundation, in collaboration with the AOU Meyer IRCCS and the Meyer Foundation, is pleased to announce that on March 21, the first day of spring, it will cut the ribbon of the new structure built at the Meyer Children’s Hospital, which will host educational activities. The ABF “Maria Manetti Shrem” Educational Center will be open every day to hospitalized children, thereby fostering the development of a curriculum of integrated activity. In addition to being able to accommodate the Hospital School, which has been part of the Meyer Children’s Hospital for twenty years thanks to the Regional School Department, the Center will also host and enhance the activities of other socio-educational organizations that are already working in the hospital.

The key to the project is the focus on the languages of art and music, and the resources offered by new educational technologies. To support the design and management of activities within the workshops in the spaces, there will also be an ABF team composed of atelieristas, and experts in different areas, in addition to the Meyer team. As a testament to the innovative value and impact of this approach, in June 2023, the Italian Ministry of Education and Merit renewed and expanded the Memorandum of Understanding it had entered into with ABF, with the purpose of promoting educational projects aimed at guaranteeing the right to well-being, education, and training for children and teenagers.

The presence of the Educational Center will enhance the educational pathway undertaken by the hospitalized children at the Meyer Hospital in Florence and make it unique, finding its place within an already active setting thanks to the activities that take place in LudoBiblio Play and Library Area and on the wards. The ABF “Maria Manetti Shrem” Educational Center will be a space that shall foster the daily coverage of socio-educational activities organized through a synergistic participatory design crafted by ABF, the Meyer Hospital, the Meyer Foundation, and the Hospital School, alongside the organizations that are already involved in providing education, pet therapy, clown therapy, and music therapy.

In Italy alone, in the 2022/2023 school year, there were about 60,000 hospitalized students who attended school in specialized facilities or at home thanks to the Home Education service. In 2020, the Andrea Bocelli Foundation launched “ABF H-LABS”, a program that integrates and implements the intervention models tested in the ABF network schools within the Italian Children’s Hospitals that are part of the Italian Pediatric Hospitals Association (AOPI), to promote and support educational and school activities within the hospitals. The expressive languages of art and music are central, intended as tools to nurture, support, and encourage the talents of each individual.

ABF H-LABS includes the ABF Digital Lab, the project with which the Foundation supports the implementation of new educational technologies within schools and hospital settings, to promote educational and teaching quality. Based on the unique impact generated by the H-LABS program, the ABF Maria Manetti Shrem Educational Center is an ambitious and, above all, replicable next step. In tandem with the Center, ABF is collaborating in the creation of a university master’s course specifically to train hospital teachers and educators, which began in the 2022/2023 academic year at the University of Florence. ABF offers its extensive experience in innovative educational practices and guidance on effective structural approaches for schools operating in hospitals.

Part of the perimeter of the structures that make up the Meyer Hospital complex, the Center was conceived as a floating leaf, suspended between the sky and the grass. Its extensive glass facades, framed by the light structure designed by Alvisi Kirimoto, offer an uninterrupted view of the recently finished sensory gardens, including a school vegetable garden. The goal is to provide a peaceful, enriching, and stimulating haven, immersed in nature.