The President of the Tuscany Region Eugenio Giani, Councilor Sara Funaro, the leaders of the Foundation Stefano Aversa, Veronica Berti and Laura Biancalani, the Director of the Meyer Hospital and the Morello Pediatric Hospitals Association, and the President of the Meyer Foundation Marco Carrai were also present at the opening ceremony.

The magician Andrea Paris also made a surprise appearance on stage.

Florence, March 21, 2024 – A great celebration took place at the Meyer Hospital in Florence for the opening of the ABF “Maria Manetti Shrem” Educational Center, a center entirely dedicated to the educational activities of hospitalized children, conceived and built by the Andrea Bocelli Foundation in collaboration with the AOU Meyer IRCCS and the Meyer Foundation.

“Attempting to describe what one experiences in places like this, such as the Meyer Hospital, is completely futile because the joys and sorrows that are experienced inside cannot be expressed. Human language is incapable of rendering it. Here one experiences a season of time, and time in life is short. We must optimize it and succeed in giving a profound meaning to the time spent in hospital by giving children the tools they need so as to not waste time,” said our founder Andrea Bocelli. “When here, children feel the need to not fall behind their peers and perhaps they even study more willingly than those outside of the hospital who have the opportunity to run and play soccer. The world is propelled forward by those who work and do, not by those who merely talk. Therefore, I would like to speak little and simply express my endless gratitude to everyone and sincerely wish them the best in the work they do.”

Every day I meet professionals from the education sector and students who tell me stories and the happenings of an institution that makes me proud. However, there are “special moments”, such as this one at the school in the Meyer Hospital in Florence, which evoke a feeling that is difficult to describe,”  said Minister Valditara.  “Here medical, educational, and social skills merge to give life to a laboratory of hope and smiles for children from all over the world. I have thanked each of them, as a minister and as a father. Public and private can cooperate, and the Meyer Hospital is the best testament to this. We, as a ministry, will always be there.”

I am overjoyed to be present in this significant moment for the Meyer Hospital and its children. Today, thanks to the Bocelli Foundation and its donors, this Florentine Children’s Hospital, an outstanding facility not only in Tuscany but across Italy, is enriched with a center that is unlike any other in the world,” explained Eugenio Giani, President of the Tuscany Region. “The activities offered by this facility will be able to bring comfort and relief to the young, hospitalized patients, with the harmony of music and the creativity of artistic expression. The Meyer Hospital has recently become an IRCCS, a Scientific Institute for Research, Hospitalization and Healthcare: initiatives such as these enrich research with the added value of comprehensive care”.

“The project being carried out at the Meyer Hospital, the symbol of children in our city, is beautiful and extremely important,” said Welfare Councilor Sara Funaro. “This collaboration between the Meyer Foundation and the Bocelli Foundation strengthens the activities dedicated to children: having new socio-educational projects within the Meyer Hospital, in collaboration with schools, means giving the hospitalized children not only the opportunity for educational initiatives, but also opportunities to develop their creativity through art, music, and workshops. Thanks go to all the people who have made this facility possible, which welcomes and enhances the educational experiences of the hospital school”.

The Andrea Bocelli Foundation’s mission is to Empower People and Communities, thereby developing talent regardless of individuals’ socio-economic or health conditions.

“That’s why we have chosen to embrace this new challenge in an environment such as the Children’s Hospital, dedicated to the care and health of children, says Stefano Aversa, ABF President. “And the Meyer Hospital in particular, already an excellence in the medical field in Italy and beyond, was the ideal place to carry out a project of this magnitude for us, which is as innovative as it is pioneering. At ABF, we aim for excellence in our projects, hoping to plant seeds that can then grow strong roots and create ripple effects in Italy and abroad.”

The center we are inaugurating today represents a virtuous example of synergy between the public and private spheres,” stated Marco Carrai, President of the Meyer Foundation.  “With the Bocelli Foundation and the Meyer Children’s Hospital, we have established this agreement that will allow us to extend the services for children and their families during the delicate time of their hospitalization. In doing so, the Foundation pursues the deepest sense of its mission: humanizing care and ensuring comprehensive patient management.”

The hospital school at Meyer has existed since 1996,” said Paolo Morello, General Director of the AOU Meyer IRCSS, “but the school, in addition to guaranteeing the right to education, must be a means to bring our children back to normalcy at a time when they may be experiencing serious suffering. The laboratories that will soon start in this beautiful  enter will greatly enrich the education on offer to our young patients. By becoming part of the hospital school, art and music will allow us to create a model of integration between the excellent work of teachers, artistic creativity, and new technologies.”

This structure was made possible thanks to the generosity of Maria Manetti Shrem, a philanthropist who has always supported ABF’s projects, and the support of Lucio and Angela Angelucci, the Investindustrial Foundation, Paola, Annì and the Rovellini family, Alessandro Dusi, The Club Firenze, the Ciardi Family, The Napa Valley Festival, Chopard, Generali Italia, Feminin Pluriel, Credem Banca, EIS Versilia, Algam Eko, Ilaria Capponi and Antonio Tomassini, the Giardini Group, and the Coventry family.

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 active in the hospital. At the same time as the project was launched, we embarked upon the development of an impact evaluation system with the support of ARCO at the University of Florence, aiming to monitor the project process and demonstrate how hospital education is a powerful element of care for children and their families. Not only that, but also how it can be a great ally for healthcare professionals to ensure the right to health set forth by Article 32 of the Italian constitution as a fundamental right that is of general interest to society, which is not simply the absence of illness but the construction of a state of physical, mental, and social well-being.

Special thanks go to: The AOU Meyer IRCCS, Professor Paolo Morello Marchesi, the Meyer Foundation, President Marco Carrai, Secretary Alessandro Benedetti, Antropozoa Pet Therapy, Atheneum Musicale, the Arca Playtherapy Cooperative, Soccorso Clown, the Regional School Office, and the hospital school managers and teachers: Pascoli High School, Poliziano Comprehensive Institute, Masaccio Comprehensive Institute, the University of Florence, Professor Boffo and Professor Biggeri.

Heartfelt thanks go to the ABF multidisciplinary team, Architect Massimo Alvisi and Daniel Costa Garriga, Civil Engineer Paolo Bianchi, Architect Francesca Bellucci, Engineer Niccolò De Robertis and Alessandro Romei, Engineer Benedetta Zambaldi, Dr. Serafino Carli, Dr. Silvia Gualdani, Dr. Cristiano Caldara, Marino Testa, Imprese Vanoncini e Manni, Alessandro De Francesco and the Giardini Group, Minister Valditara and the IV Office of the Italian Ministry of Education for the trust they have placed in us.

We would also like to extend our deepest thanks to the ABF team and to our many friends on the construction site and beyond who have supported us in this venture.