The Young People of Brancaccio with Gen Verde

In a quarter on Sicily’s outskirts a hundred young people become main actors in Start Now, a Peace Education Project that uses the language of art and music

1gvDSC_0350“Fulfilling, happiness, courage, family, unique experience, listening, diversity…” These were some of the keywords left behind in their comments by the teenagers from Liceo Basile school. They were also the main actors in three shows and workshops that kept them involved from January 31st – February 5th in Palermo, Italy. “Now, it’s as if I’ve become one of them, someone with a great ideal, believing that love really can overcome everything and that our hearts don’t have borders,” Irene writes.

Ernesto Basile Scientific High School is considered an institutional outpost in Brancaccio, which is the quarter where Father Pino Puglisi had worked. He was murdered by the mafia in 1993 and is now a Blessed. There are social problems in the region and the problem of education is always an open question: the school drop-out rates are far from the national average. For this reason the many projects that are carried out by the school often represent the only way out. They focus on cultivating an awareness in the younger generations that they belong to a community. They also intend to give witness to a better lifestyle that goes against the norm, and to provide the opportunity to reflect on personal choices that can lead in a wrong direction.

2gvDSC_0063The almost accidental encounter with Gen Verde last May ignited a desire in the young people to make the Start Now project happen in their own school, just as it had in several European and Asian cities.

“Tons of enthusiasm” for this event. The workshops that involved hundreds of young people were places to experience their own creativity and discover their own talents. They did side by side with the band members as actors, sharing in the different artistic experiences with mutual listening and respect.

PalaOreto, February 3. The young people stepped on stage with Gen Verde in front of a crowd of thousands of teenagers from the schools in the neighborhood. It happened again on the following Sunday at the Golden Theatre.

16298750_10210538814780174_6665029376688686575_nExcited but secure in their performance, they gave the best of themselves in the choreographies, songs, dances and theatre in a way that drew in the audience. Above all, they lived an experience that was unique unto itself, an experience that doesn’t conceive of “walls” and that lifted up the differences and diversity, showing how marginalization can be overcome.

“The day after had a sense of nostalgia, but now it was different: It had the sense of a challenge! Good Start to all off us, small warriors on the outskirts!” wrote a teacher on her Facebook page, who helped promote the event. That’s the dream of those who interact with these young people every day, standing against marginalization and uneasiness with creativity and positive stimulation, helping others to not remain closed in their own everyday environments, promoting an inclusive environment at school that embraces all the sides of a person.