Schools Adopt Monuments,which was started in Naples in December 1992 by the Naples Ninety-nine Foundation in collaboration with the Local Education Office and the MInistry of Culture, is an in-service training project concerned with the conservation of the historical and artistic, and more in general, the environmental heritage.
The project is based on a recognition of the centrality of the school in the cultural and behavioural education of the population and considers the young generation to be the special starting-point for the development of a new awareness of the cultural heritage. What is meant by new awareness? It means learning to recognise the cultural heritage as architectural values and at the same time anthropological artefacts, rooted in the cultural and social makeup of a community, a clear sign of its identity and, at the same time, a vehicle of feelings of belonging, of solidarity and a sense of sharing.
Schools Adopt Monuments is basic to this educational perspective, a special means of acquiring a feeling for one's cultural roots and positive attitudes to the future, knowledge of the cultural heritage:
" adopting a monument means not only to get to know it but also to act as its 'guardian angels', rescuing it from oblivion, caring for it, playing a part in its conservation, making it more widely known and helping to exploit its potential."
The process of adoption has enabled young people to "win back", , both in the sense of getting to know but also in that of using important areas of the city - physical, cultural and spiritual areas at one and the same time. The relationship that has developed between students and the monuments they have adopted is encouraged to grow within the school and has flowed over into the outside world, investing the school community with an awareness of the responsible role they play in forming the attitudes of future citizens. In short, the school has won back the right and responsibility for an important time of (and within) society, a critical and opportune time for establishing a different culture of conservation and the quality of life.
Since the project has developed on a national level, the results have been even more fertile as the students, increasing their knowledge of the cultural heritage of their city, have begun to look further afield at the experience gained simultaneously in other Italian cities. And so they have realised that, in spite of the diversity of social and environmental characteristics, the project could ideally act as a way of uniting the Italian school population.
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