International Youth Day, AVSI and UNICEF together to support 900 minors in Italy

The focus of the initiative is the education and inclusion of Ukrainian refugee children and adolescents through a skills development programme.

Countries Italy
Date 03.08.2023

August 12th is the International Youth Day, as established by the United Nations General Assembly in December 17th, 1999 to highlight the important role of young people in society. The United Nations Security Council has thus stated how fundamental it is to include young people in activities promoting peace and security, reaffirming their central role in conflict resolution and in determining the success of peacekeeping and peacebuilding operations.

Education and inclusion for Ukrainian children in Italy

The ongoing crisis in Ukraine has forced thousands of people to flee the war and seek asylum in Italy. As of July 21st, more than 180,000 requests for temporary protection permits (97,534 for women, 20,544 for men and 62,131 for minors) had already been registered in Italy. All these people need accommodation and basic goods to live. As the situation in Ukraine remains very uncertain, many refugees have tried to start a new life in Italy: adults are looking for work, minors need to be put into the school system.

Despite the lack of data, it is widely recognized that the number of Ukrainian children enrolled in schools in Italy does not correspond to the number of children who are actually attending school. Many Ukrainian students are continuing their studies thanks to distance learning, but to date there is no data available to demonstrate their actual participation and effectiveness.

Furthermore, Ukrainian students in Italy face many challenges, including difficulties with the Italian language and a different structure of the school system. Interruptions to classroom learning can have a serious impact on a child's ability to learn. The longer children and adolescents are out of school, the less likely they are to return to class.

This is why AVSI and UNICEF have been implementing the Empowering the Next Generation: A Child and Adolescent Skills Development Program since June, which aims to guarantee learning opportunities, inclusion, psychosocial well-being and protection to 600 Ukrainian children and young people in 5 Italian regions (Lombardy, Lazio, Piedmont, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna, and Liguria).

Attention is also devoted to the host communities: the project aims at involving 300 vulnerable children and teenagers, both Italian and of foreign origin, and 60 actors part of the education system (partners, teachers, volunteers and/or educators from civil society organizations involved in proposals for extracurricular activities).

Project activities

Promoting inclusion of Ukrainian children in school by providing educational support and reducing the digital gap

UNICEF, in collaboration with the Akelius Foundation and in partnership with the ISMU Foundation (Fondazione ISMU- Iniziative e studi sulla multietnicità), promotes the Akelius platform to teach Italian in primary and secondary schools, which can be a useful tool to face the Ukrainian crisis. For the next school year, AVSI will supply 380 Ukrainian children aged 6 to 11 with tablets to use the platform, which will be introduced in new schools in collaboration with the ISMU Foundation

Promoting inclusive opportunities for Ukrainian and vulnerable teenagers and children

Through extracurricular activities – after-school, recreational and sports activities, as well as individual support – AVSI staff and its partners will help children and adolescents strengthen what are defined as soft skills: the ability to learn, critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity, IT skills, use of media and new technologies. The educational actors involved in this project are 60, including teachers, volunteers, educators who will be trained on how to promote the development of social inclusion skills in children and adolescents.

Summer camps, workshops and art therapy: these are the main activities that will be offered to guarantee childcare services also during summer.

This summer, in collaboration with the project partners, summer camps, playful and learning experiences, sports activities and art workshops are being held, to foster inclusion for Ukrainian and Italian children, as well as for kids of other descents.

In Liguria, the Cooperativa Sociale Mondo Aperto offers bi-weekly courses that will also continue in the winter period to accompany children in school integration.

In Lombardy, AVSI  takes care of art-therapy courses in structures where groups of Ukrainians live and where vulnerable children and/or adolescents need to integrate: a hotel managed by the Italian civil protection where refugees are hosted (in Seregno, in the province of Monza-Brianza), the Fiori school in Bergamo, the structure of the Don Orione parish, the municipal library of Milan in Via Querenghi, local associations and the AVSI for Community center in Milan. The goal is to promote art as a tool to develop resilience and strengthen relationships. The methodological and theoretical approach described in the manual "Resilience through Art " produced by AVSI, is being applied during the workshops.

In addition, in Milan, the Minerva sports club in collaboration with the Whanau social enterprise offers a Summer Camp in July and August which includes sports activities and art workshops.

It is possible to receive information on the activities and register by filling out the form.

In all its activities, AVSI aims to guarantee to Ukrainian children the possibility to enjoy opportunities for socialization and integration with other children, both of Italian and other descents. This stems from the idea that being open to getting to know other people, in their diversity and uniqueness, can only start from being aware that we have something in common with each one of them, even though they may have different physical and cultural traits. The fear of what – or who – is different disappears when one’s certain of their own self and origin.

I partner di progetto

  • Portofranco   is a company that manages 23 youth centers for high school students throughout Italy: it supports over 1400 students a year with a network of 300 volunteers.
  • Bambini Dell'Est is an association that carries out initiatives for children; it is part of a network coordinated by the Municipality of Milan in collaboration with Refugees Welcome.
  • Fondazione Verga is a social promotion association that provides social welfare services, Italian language and culture courses in Milan thanks to a staff of professionals, collaborators and volunteers, in close collaboration with local actors.
  • Cooperativa Mondo Aperto promotes the social inclusion of minors and adults, working to prevent and mitigate factors of social exclusion in La Spezia.
  • JAItalia is an organization working throughout Italy in the education sector through formal and informal educational programs with young people.
  • Fondazione ISMU  is based in Milan. It produces and supports research and initiatives on multiethnic and multicultural society and on migratory phenomena. Former partner of UNICEF for the dissemination of the Akelius platform.
  • Scuola Prestigio and Solomiya Krushelnytska are Ukrainian schools in Rome and Milan.