Penetrate the hearts and behaviour of modern day children, teenagers and young adults and accompany them in their journey of learning and development – this is at the basis of the podcast “EDU FOR UNITY, released on 27th November, 2023 on the Spotify channel of the Focolare Movement.

How important is it today to understand the best way to approach each other? And with regard to children, teenagers and young adults, how can we adults, parents, teachers and educators be more attentive to them, how can we best support and accompany them in their journey of education and development?

These are the questions that, over the next few weeks, will be tackled by the podcast, “EDU FOR UNITY”, which starts on 27th November, 2023.  The idea came from the “EduxEdu, Be Educated to Educate” team, which coordinates the international training program for educators promoted by the Focolare Movement, in partnership with the Sophia University Institute in Loppiano and the Lumsa (Libera Università degli Studi Maria Ss. Assunta) University of  Rome.

A few days after the publication of the Guidelines for Training in the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Persons (SCVA)  drawn up by the Focolare Movement and in the light of the many challenges that the world places before us, Edu For Unity proposes, as in a journey, to indicate the destination through a new educational culture of childhood and adolescence in which the direction of the compass changes: today’s children and young people are not the object of education, but are active subjects immersed in society with their specificity, their fragility, their strengths, their talents.  Each stage of this journey will indicate the path to be traced, with the help of an international team of experts in sociology, psychology, pedagogy and theology. To learn more about it, we interviewed Roberta Formisano, one of the authors of this project.

Where did the idea for this podcast come from and to whom is it directed?
This podcast stems from the desire to pay more attention to the whole world of youth, teenagers, children and young adults who, especially in recent years, have been forced into isolation and confinement due to Covid. This has led an increase in fears and insecurities for many of them and many of these fears come precisely from the difficulty experienced in building relationships. The situation has therefore raised further questions about how to get in touch with them, how to educate them, how to find new strategies to get closer to them so as to be able to accompany them on their journey. The podcast came from an idea of the EduxEdu team and is aimed at parents, teachers, educators and leaders of groups in parishes or ecclesial movements, all those who accompany children, teenagers and young adults in the formation aspects of their lives, whether spiritual, cultural or even sports, of any kind.

What topics have you chosen and how will they be organized?
The podcast was created with the aim of offering relatively short inputs on the theme of the fragility of children, teenagers and young adults. The thematic path that has been chosen starts from listening, the topic of this first season, and then goes on to delve deeper into friendship, conflict, emotions, limits and coherence. According to our team of experts, these are the six keywords in which it is possible to decline “fragility” and they will be the themes of the six seasons of this podcast. Each episode opens with a conversation between a presenter (who for this first season will be the Argentinian journalist Anita Martinez) and an expert who can guide us on the subject. In each episode, we have tried to include experiences so that the various issues that arise in everyday life are answered not only from the theoretical point of view that an expert can provide but demonstrate an impact in everyday life. Each season ends with a relevant thought from Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare Movement.

The title of the podcast highlights the word “unity”. In what sense is it used?
The title EDU FOR UNITY can be explained by referring to the educating community, that is, the awareness that beyond the essential skills to be able to understand the fragilities of children and teenagers, listen to them and make them our own, it is only together, united, as a community that “listens”, can we can hope to be effective.

What were the biggest challenges?
The major challenges included continually remembering our target audience and that the underlying objective was to “take care” of children, teenagers and young adults. Another challenge was to bring together the various aspects which distinguish the people who collaborated, each with their own professional, cultural, academic background. We were invited to get involved without leaning on the expertise of those who “teach”, but with great simplicity, trying to be concise and using simple language to be able to reach everyone. The experts worked together for a long time to produce these first four episodes. It was also a collaboration between the various schools of thought and study on the subject: sociological, educational and psychological. Even at a technical and recording level, it was a huge challenge, because we involved people from many countries around the world and, up to now, the podcast has been recorded and translated in Italian and Spanish. In addition, there was great cooperation between generations and this brought various voices together, including those of the youngest.

What do you hope those who listen to this podcast will gain from it?
We hope that listening to this podcast will provide a space that each person can take, not only in order to be of help to and to accompany the young, but to reflect and work on themselves. That everyone can really find suggestions to put into practice in daily life. We would like everyone to say to themselves: “This is not just a lesson. Do I really do this every day? How can I go about implementing it?” We hope that it will be useful to create a vision of a better society, one that is not only focused on itself, closed in and indifferent; that helps adults to hear the voice of children, teenagers and young adults and to accompany them in their path of formation and development.

Maria Grazia Berretta

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