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The hospital, a place of the city  
We can make a lovely and simple place,
Gaia 5 years old

The families which go to the children’s Neuropsychiatric ward often have diseases that strongly impact the life of the children and their families, because their problems can be motor skills, psycho-motor delays,  epilepsy, muscle and nerve diseases, and degenerative diseases of the nervous system. At times the diagnosis is “mild,” other times it is “unfavourable”. Therefore you enter this ward with a heavy heart and so much pain that passionately begs for a remedy to the suffering.
In the past, access to the Children’s Neuropsychiatric Ward consisted of a long, gray corridor, dark, blank walls, and you had to wait on uncomfortable metal benches; so much suffering for the children and their parents. So we the parents of Ring14 Association wondered what we could do to make this place more welcoming and bright for those who came, the children and the adults.
Could some posters on the walls be enough? No.
Perhaps some chairs instead of benches? Not even.
How could we create this space?
Who could figure out how to fix it?
THE CHILDREN only they could do it, without falling into the rhetoric that we adults are often used to, especially when it comes to handicaps.
Which CHILDREN? And which schools should be involved?
It started with the children’s school Paolo Freire, and then it extended to Pablo Neruda School and Linus Preschool, under the direction of the school and preschool institution of the municipality of Reggio Emilia, Coopselios Cooperative, and Reggio Children for a growth of ideas and incredible willingness!
An interdisciplinary work group was created consisting of doctors and workers of the Hospital-Children’s Neuropsychiatric Complex, teachers, educators, workshop teachers, volunteers of the International Association Amici.di Reggio Children which chose the waiting room for the first work in the children’s neuropsychiatric ward, to make this place more lively, welcoming, and curious for the many children, young people, and families that come and spend time here. The ordinary life of children with special needs is very often made up of frequent visits to the hospital; the welcome of a warm hospital to ease the pain and anxiety that often affects the families that face serious diseases for their children was the driving force behind this project. The group gave life to the project called: The hospital, a place in the city, which originated from the desire to involve many people and trace new perspectives for the future of our city.
The children and their teachers
The 2 and 3 year old boys and girls
of Linus Preschool,
4 and 5 year olds of Paulo Freire and Pablo Neruda Schools, along with the teachers and ward staff, met at this place in the hospital to explore it and its limitations and to imagine possible changes make it nicer...they found out about the doctors’ work instruments, like the hammer, the tuning fork and the phonendoscope, to listen to the heart, breathing, muscles, the brain, ……
The children’s ideas, their thoughts, images, signs and designs,
borne from this meeting, will inhabit the walls of this place and they will be given to the neuropsychiatric ward in the form of a wall documentation. These traces are the first contribution to the ward for children and adults who thought and acted together, a project of a future perspective, in a sign of open dialogue between the city and the hospital. 
Doctors, and nurses of the ward
The orange corridor, as the children have renamed it and the adults who listened to their advice, is in the area of the hospital dedicated to the medical offices and the reception of the neuropsychiatric ward (the inpatient and outpatient rooms are in the paediatric ward upstairs). The parents and their ill children often walk through the corridor of our facility and stay there, waiting for their appointment, a diagnostic test, a specialist visit, a meeting for a diagnosis or a therapy, notification about a diagnosis, at times severe and inevitably difficult because of its intrinsic complexity. This is also why the waiting room has been renewed, not just more welcoming, but also able to foster an emotional approach that’s as relaxed as possible given the sometimes very serious health issues through the use of colours.
Despite the dedication of the medical and nursing staff and the constant attention to welcome parents and children in the most professionally appropriate and humanly felt way, the waiting time and anxiety that go along with them can be equally frustrating, but, now, thanks to the modifications made, brought to life in part by the colours, the thoughts of the children, and by the environment that’s now better. These may look like small changes, but in reality these positive reflections go far in time within the hearts of families and in our spaces. In that way, a special thanks for the thoughts writing by the school children, visible and rich with the details of their infinite loyalty and sincere friendship.
For them and for us, this burst of “colour therapy” from the outside represents a hug and the idea of being, here and outside, at least a little in the thoughts of the children of the city, can stimulate us to do our very best for them.
Subjects involved:
Santa Maria local hospital: Children’s Neuropsychiatric Ward
Dr. Della Giustina, head doctor
doctors and workers
Schools and preschool institute of the municipality of Reggio Emilia: Paola Cavazzoni (educator)            
teachers and workshop teachers at the children’s schools Paolo Freire and Pablo Neruda:
Lanfranco Bassi, Mara Davoli,
Mirca Neroni, Antonia Ferrari
Liliana Sassi, Lucia Marioni, and Rossella Campari.
Coopselios, social cooperative, services for people           
Mariaelena Bega (educator)
Teachers and workshop teachers:
Laura Serraino, Chiara Zannino, Cristina Rinaldi, Sara Filippini, and Veronica Arcuri
Reggio Children-Association International   volunteers
Friends of Reggio Children
RING14 International Association
Stefania Azzali, President
Play+arredi for children Maurizio Fontanili
Unieuro – Home appliances Fabrizio Costacurta

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The hospital, a place in the city (17.9 MB)

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