The management team of ABF and the prestigious children’s hospital are coming together to guarantee inclusive, quality education and training for all children and young students

Access to education has always been the cornerstone of ABF’s work, both within Italy and abroad, and the embodiment of its mission of “empowering people and communities”. Caring for children to ensure the best possible treatment, supported by the most innovative research, is the principle on which the Giannina Gaslini Institute was founded. The merging of these two missions has given rise to the “H-Labs: ABF for hospital schools” project, which aims to foster the inclusion and empowerment of sick children who are either hospitalized or day-patients and attending the school within the hospital.

The pilot project is being carried out in partnership with the Italian Ministry of Education and in accordance with the guidelines promoted by the National Network for Hospital Schools and Home Schooling and will go on to be implemented in all the pediatric hospitals of the AOPI (the Italian Pediatric Hospitals Association) that join the initiative.

There are over 70,000 so-called “hospital” students in Italy. This rises to one million if we include children with chronic diseases who are suffering from complex illnesses. The project that ABF has conceived with the G. Gaslini Institute wants to reach these children, starting with those who are cared for in the Genoa children’s hospital, which sees around 40,000 admissions and half a million outpatients every year.

The objectives of the H-LABS project include a desire to offer the suitable conditions so that each child may discover or enhance their talent, by bolstering and supplementing the education offered (also by way of creating suitable spaces within hospitals).

During the first year, the project will involve the young patients undergoing treatment at Gaslini Hospital and will be a research area for the Institute itself. This will allow us to scientifically monitor and assess the results of the pilot project. These results will form the basis for designing the multi-year implementation of the project.

“Whether they be brick walls or social and digital barriers, since 2011 ABF has been committed to investing in the future of the new generations, both within Italy and abroad, by providing them with the tools required to achieve their potential – says ABF President Laura Biancalani – We had previously approached the topic of digital education prior to the COVID-19 emergency. We discovered that in the case of hospitals, it is currently only a tool for the few, due to limited resources, and as it is currently set up, it is a mere transposition of face-to-face teaching. We would like to implement it to make it become a real source of new possibilities and new languages for the growth of the citizens of tomorrow”.

“The excellence of the Gaslini Institute has joined forces with a large charity of the likes of ABF and has launched a collaboration based on a therapeutic and scientific alliance – states the Director General of the Giannina Gaslini Institute, Paolo Petralia – The young patients who will be part of the pilot project will be able to develop all their potential within an innovative educational pathway and will be able to stay connected with their schoolmates thanks to digital technology.”

Specifically, ABF will be heading up pedagogical coordination: it will work to identify, integrate, train and coordinate specialized professionals – the atelieristas – in planning artistic and musical experiences, implementing and managing music and art workshops and also promoting foreign language learning.  The decision to include figures in the role of atelierista is rooted in the awareness that the natural tendency of children to share images, thoughts and emotions though communicative means based on complex artistic or musical expressive forms must be supported through environments that are rich and compelling in terms of opportunities for exploration, building and sharing.

As with all our other educational projects, this was also developed in line with the UN’s Global Goal 4: “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.

The Andrea Bocelli Foundation (ABF) firmly believes that education is the fundamental right of all children and that the promotion of mental, social and extracurricular activities – such art and music – is complementary and promotes the acquisition and consolidation of formal education pathways also.  In particular, the Foundation’s educational approach places children’s natural predisposition to make music – and more generally their musicality – at the center of their growth and development. As the musical language is a precious resource for encouraging the emergence of new and different abilities, skills and knowledge, taking care of the talents of the young thus becomes a tool for fostering the acquisition of life and soft skills. In doing so, we aim to support the principles of global citizenship in children, so as to be a real resource for themselves and for the community as a whole.

Lastly, thanks to the contribution of Generali and its employees, and thanks to our technical partner on the Lenovo project, new tools will be delivered – and suitable spaces created where required – to favor quality educational (school and extra-scholastic) experiences, by promoting the opportunities offered by new educational technologies to help break down the barriers that can hinder the development of talent in the newer generations, especially in such a delicate context such as that of hospitalization.

Specifically, the new ABF initiatives to ensure inclusive, quality education for all children and young students will be aimed at:

  1. Creating a library of devices, so as to ensure that the children and young people can maintain relationships with their classmates and teachers, even at a distance;
  2. Developing a platform for the ABF Lab, which will offer access to a vast selection of educational content;
  3. Training and integrating the figure of the digital atelierista within the teaching staff, a 4.0 librarian specializing in the use of new educational technologies who, collaborating with the ABF working group, will promote new and transversal perspectives on the use of technological tools for children and young people, thereby supporting teachers and families in how to best use these devices.

The project – which represents a significant innovation in terms of promoting new technologies for educational innovation – aims to create and maintain the conditions that make the devices real tools that support, supplement and enrich learning processes.