“It was beautiful to see our generation working and sweating for an ideal of love and solidarity without receiving anything in return . . . And I hope this helps to change the common opinion that teenagers are just lazy and uncaring. Because we’re the living proof that even if we’re young, with love and a bit of will we can accomplish something that’s great, entertaining as well as significant by putting ourselves in the game!”
These were words shared by one of the 120 youths and teenagers (8-17 years of age) from several regions of Lombardy, Italy. On June 15, 2013 he and his peers performed in the Musical “Rays of Light.” The show was thought up and desired by these young members of the Focolare to be a musical rendition, through word and song, of the extraordinary life of Blessed Chiara Luce Badano who was a youth and teenager like them. They wanted the underlying message of her life to be conveyed to as many hearts as possible. The workshop gathered together 70 youths from northern Italy on June 26-30 at Sassello, the city where Chiara Luce was born.
These are some examples of the kaleidoscope of activities that Teens for Unity have been promoting throughout Italy as they take on the most diverse, demanding and also very current issues. There is always one common denominator: to build bridges in the midst of their cities that lead to a more united world. In Tuscany 45 youths between the ages of 9 and 12 “exercised.” They began gradually, first setting in place columns of friendship and true values. . . Then they did the rest. It was a different approach, yes, but often it produced a wealth of unexpected results.
Their impressions express the intensity of the moments they shared: “During a period of much doubting, this experience has been like a trampoline for me to begin again loving and to rediscover the joy there is in loving others freely.” Another says: “Some of my friends were competing with each other to see who could be first at supper. But one boy was exhausted and just couldn’t keep up with everyone else. So I thought of our motto and went back to keep him company.”
In Umbria, Italy, 65 youths went “in search of happiness” with the help of some experts from the field of psychology who explained to them how it has been scientifically proven that loving makes you happy. Longs nature walks, workshops, sporting matches and musical sessions were opportunities to build and share deep friendships.
“Big Bang, an explosion that unites” was the title of another meeting in Calabria, Italy. It involved 150 teenagers between the ages of 13 and 16 from Calabria and Sicily. Some of the distinguished guest speakers included the D’Agostino’s, parents of the police officer who was murdered by the mafia.The D’Agostino’s helped raise awareness among the teenagers, of the importance of legality. Meanwhile, on the other side of the peninsula, in Friuli Venezia Giulia, another workshop gathered fifty teenagers beneath a banner containing five slogans: “Always joyful,” “Stay on the ray,” “Love always,” “Begin again,” and “Live the present moment.”
There was “Stop’n Go 3,” the third Teens for Unity Camp in Lazio, Italy, on July 17-21, 2013. Daily activities alternated with moments for solidarity – like visiting a rest home or working on ecological projects – and moments for reflection provided by experts in the field of feelings and emotions, and in the field of dialogue between Christians and Muslims.
Not the usual holiday vacations, then, but 100% love!”affirmed one of the young protagonists. And from Austria to Brazil more new projects and activities are planned or already under way.
Until the next time!