Project Up2Me :  

how to help young people explore the emotional realm

Paolo Rovea, a doctor and father of four who is involved in working with families within the Focolare Movement, was at the beginning of the Up2Me project, translated as "It's up to me". In an interview he gave to the Italian Città Nuova (New City), he explains its origins and mission.

How did this project come about?

There is already excellent experience with some projects around the world. However, when we reflected on the interesting experiences in the field of youth work within the Focolare Movement over the last thirty years, we realized that as families and as youth animators we have some valuable specific insights. So it was worth trying to create a new course in our style."

How would you describe this project in three words?

"The first word would be continuity. Because we are not talking about one afternoon spent with an expert, nor about a one-off booklet for schools, but about systematic and continuous work with a group of children or adolescents. The second word: modern approach. We are not planning a lot of explanatory classes, but rather situational games, video clips, powerpoints, listening to experiences and then discussing them with the children. The third word: maieutics, or the method by which we get suggestions directly from the children. In other words, we make it so that they themselves go through a journey that leads them to be able to evaluate different lifestyles (including their own) and then make decisions."

What are you teaching the young people?

"First of all, to know ourselves: how we are formed, even from an anatomical-physiological point of view, how we 'function'. In spite of the many pieces of information that young people receive, we see that they are profoundly ignorant. Then together we learn to find the positive features of sexuality, that powerful force which is not so much a selfish instrument of pleasure as a gift for the other. Even the natural sciences tell us that a closed sexuality, turned in on itself, encloses a person in a vicious circle. And indeed, we have never had as many problems associated with sexuality as in this age of sexual freedom."

What view of man and woman underlies the course?

"We believe in the human being, man and woman, in relationship. So we want open-minded young people who realize themselves when they enter into harmony with others. We are not interested in a course about sexuality out of context, but about sensuality, which is a broader concept. Our course is primarily oriented towards the overall harmonious maturation of a person. Therefore, the course also includes social activities for the benefit of others to promote prosocial behavior. To a healthy adolescence of the young, even sexually, it is essential to experience a focus on others, doing something for others."

What do you require of participants?

"The desire to have an unusual experience the perseverance to attend all 10-15 planned meetings, to participate actively in the dis-cussion and in the evaluation of the final result. Of course, we guarantee professional confidentiality of what comes out about the participants. At the same time, we also offer several meetings to parents who wish to do so, as we consider it important that they too can confront these topics."

(Interview by Pietro Riccio(Adapted from Città Nuova, editorially abridged)

Promo video for the IT language course