A playground to teach peace is inaugurated in Loppiano, Italy
The playground, dedicated to Nicolas Crivelli, has just been inaugurated in the Focolare Movement’s little city near Florence, Tuscany. It aims to become a privileged space for peace education.
Creating a space for children has been a lifelong dream for the inhabitants of Loppiano, the Focolare Movement’s little city near Florence. Since the beginning, they had imagined this playground as a space that would be open to everyone: locals, visitors and residents of nearby villages. They envisioned a recreational area that would be tailor-made for children and their families, an inclusive and accessible space where people could enjoy spending time together and experience the beauty of building new relationships, and where different generations and cultures could meet.
Thanks to the generosity and the work of many, Loppiano’s own playground was inaugurated on Sunday, 19th June.
Located at the foot of the Salone San Benedetto, it has swings, a spring rocking horse, a hexagonal gym, a tower and a fitness trail. Each component is made from sustainable materials. Around it, some recently-planted holm and cork oaks, cypresses and linden trees.
The inauguration ceremony was opened by the promoters of the project – the children themselves. They talked about the small initiatives through which they contributed to the creation of the park, and read some excerpts of the letters that accompanied the many donations they received from grandparents, parents and other children from Italy and abroad.
“This playground wants to be a sign of our commitment to keep believing in, hoping for and working in favour of peace. – explained Mariateresa Fumi, co-leader of the little city, after thanking all those who made the project possible – That is why we are welcomed here by the ‘Dice of peace’, which takes inspiration from the points of the ‘Art of loving’ that Chiara Lubich, the founder of the Focolare Movement and of this Centre, had shared with children in the form of a dice”.
Today, the Dice of Peace is the essential element of the “Living Peace” peace education programme, spread around the world. The aim of the dice is to promote positive relationships, fostering pro-social skills in children and strengthening them in adults. On its faces there are sentences that help build peaceful relationships: “I am the first to love”, “I love everybody”, “I love the other person”, “I listen to the other person”, “we forgive one another”, “we love each other”.
The protagonists of the Dice – and of the various installations that surround the area – are two clowns, GB and W, the characters created by cartoonist Walter Kostner, who, through their adventures, make kids and grown-ups discover the wonder of living to love one’s brothers and sisters and Creation.
The children of the little city asked for the playground to be dedicated to Nicolas Nicodemo Crivelli, a friend who lived in the village and who died prematurely on 5th June 2015, at the age of 5, because of a terrible illness: muscular spinal atrophy. The inhabitants of Loppiano were his extended family, and today Nicolas rests in the city’s little cemetery. His family, who now live in Italian-speaking Switzerland, also attended the inauguration. His mum, Candida Duarte, emotionally thanked those present: “When Nicolas left the house, he always wanted to go to the village playground, where he knew he would meet everyone and invite everyone home for pasta with a big smile on his face. We are certain: Nico is here and plays with every child!”
The children of Loppiano officially cut the ribbon alongside the mayor of Figline and Incisa Valdarno, Giulia Mugnai. “We formally inaugurate this space – she said – which is first and foremost a story of love: the story of Nicolas and his family; the story of the many children who, bit by bit, found the necessary resources to bring it to life. It is a story of love, because it will be a place for meeting and socialising after two very difficult years in this respect. After the pandemic, having one more space in which to erase physical distances takes on a great symbolic meaning, especially bearing in mind the growing awareness of the added value of outdoor activities and environmental protection”.
The civil ceremony was followed by the Christian blessing of the playground, invoked by the priest and the children themselves… “… so that everyone can play safely!”.