Grandparents go back to school!

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Grandparents go back to school!

Milano, Italy
Project Stage:
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

the possibility of conducting a social activity within the pre-school (3-6 years) linking children and old people with talent and experience.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

In Milan lives 394,673 over-60 people with a trend of significant growth. The data on their health conditions reports a positive and active aging: 83,6% claim to feel "good" or "very good";only 16.4% claim to feel "bad" or "very bad“. Every month in Milan, there are 94,722 over-54 people that volunteer and give informal help. This therefore means that every month 25% of those over 54 provides an average about 32 hours of informal care and free of charge: older people often have energies to work and to become a potentially important resource of a community welfare. According these data, the project elaborated its strategy: local communities, educational agencies i.e. the kindergarten - represent actors to be involved in new projects: the talents of aged people The active volunteering data of the elderly population in Milan show us that active aging means that aged people do not lose at all the possibilities and the desire to design new experiences of working life, and to realize them, in case of favorable conditions in terms of organization, proposals, and communication. Kindergarten are places to build and nurture future talent (children 3-6 years old) and so are ideal laboratories to work on intergenerational, in a perspective of exchange, ongoing and lasting relationship between these two age groups because often their needs resemble (need for attention, care, love). In addition to these "latent" resources to be exploited there is a worrying reduction of economic resources and staff in kindergarten with the decline of educational offer and the reduction of educators employment, i.e. service hours. Hence the project has born as an intervention both of social cohesion and of active volunteer in schools that exploit the talents of over 60/65 to strengthen the growth of future citizens, the children.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The project started with the search, selection and training of volunteers; then the project looked for schools adhering to the proposal; the project endorsed those schools closer to the volunteer homes and with a management willing to help elderlies to start a continuing and permanent relationship with their children and teachers. Our volunteers do not have family relationship with the children who attend the kindergarten: so they have become Grandparents of all, a precious collective resource for schools and teachers, with whom they have been sharing their skills and activities; they have become important presence for the children, who establish a new relationship with a generation that is often away for logistical or social reasons (immigration, separation, distance); finally, beyond the emotional Grandparent-Children relationship they live with, elderlies felt the new gratification of being active and valued by their community. Volunteers provide 2h availability for one or more mornings a week to pass on "endangered crafts", stories and tales of life or simply to share with them their own "talent." Their presence therefore wish to provide precious, continuous and long-lasting relationships to children , and at the same time to give the adults involved a chance of social involvement from a service-to-community perspective, and of feeling to be useful and active in the growth of children, citizens of the future. Our project has a strategic core the desire of the elderly to project himself (the ability, knowledge, experience) and its "re-actualization" through the exchange experiential with the child. An exchange is not pure service assistance or care (I'll cross the street, I'll do homework) but of relationship and interaction that comes from the building together an activity of life of the elderly. Another aspect of our proposal is the territorial dimension as an opportunity for relational continuity. The school is the neighborhood where grandfather lives, children are children of the same district and therefore potentially the relationship or even simply recognize can also be done outside of class. This experience of active citizenship is defined not only how to donate time, but is based on giving future generations the experiences and history in order to build a new relationship to be able to do together.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

A psychologist assessed the ability and the will of elderly volunteer. The elderly have gone through 5 meeting training course to be sure of providing a common methodological framework. After defining activities that each volunteer would have been able to propose, the project leader have organized specific 2h laboratory activity, scheduled one morning a week for at least 6 weeks, according to the school priorities. This has meant that the same grandfather have been able also to propose his/her own laboratory twice in the course of the same school year, to different classes in the same school For example, basing on the previous experience, the types of activities have been Granpa carpenters, wood processing and modeling; Granny artists, manipulation of the clay; Granpa musicians, creating musical instruments; Granpa athletes, for the motor activity; Granny seamstresses, for creations with fabrics and wool; Granpa maker, teaching how to build scientific toys; Granny botanical, gardening and nature discovery; Granny Storyteller for reading and listening of stories for everyone.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

The challenge is to integrate all the resources of active volunteering for the elderly people in a methodologically uniform framework to enhance the kindergarten in accordance with the public administration, head of the educational action towards children.
About You
About You
First Name


Last Name


Implementer(s) and cooperation partners

Organization No Profit


Non‐profit/NGO/citizen sector organization

Country where main implementer is located

, MI, Milano

How long has the main implementer been operating?

More than 5 years

Please provide a short description of the main implementer.

Arci is an Italian national social promotion organization.
It was born in 1957 and it has around 1.100.000 members, 130 provincial headquarters and 5500 local centres. During the past 15 years, Arci’s internal history is registered a great change from what was a typical “mutual benefit organization” (offering recreation and facilities to its own members) to the actual “social promotion organization” providing services and projects aimed to disadvantaged people in several collective interest areas, as follows: social services, health culture, recreation, social policy, education and training.

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Cooperation partner

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How does this cooperation partner support the initiative? What competencies and resources does this partner bring to the initiative?
Cooperation partner

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How does this cooperation partner support the initiative? Which competencies and resources does this partner bring to the initiative?
Cooperation partner

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How does this cooperation partner support the initiative? Which competencies and resources does this partner bring to the initiative?
Cooperation partner

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How does this cooperation partner support the initiative? Which competencies and resources does this partner bring to the initiative?
Problem and solution
Which of these fields of Active and Healthy Ageing are addressed by your initiative?

Social inclusion (intergenerational practice, work and volunteering).

If none of the above, answer here:
Please describe if and how your stakeholders (cooperation partners, funders, users, etc.) have been participating in defining the problem and developing the solution.

This project came from a work path that Arci Milano made with:
- active seniors who have urged the association not to disperse the energy, the vitality and the social capital built with the previous experience. In a meeting on February 2013, a grandpa said: "I do not have grandchildren, but when I went to teach botany to children I felt full of energy and joy”.
- Kindergarten involved who left positive the project by analyzing and reflecting on devices and corrective mechanisms that only direct experience could bring. In a meeting with the teachers, they said: "The experience with the Grandparents was important for the school and for the children, without an organizational support, supervision and support we evaluated impractical the idea of go on, but it is a sin. "
- the municipal administration through the work for the elaboration of Pedagogical Manifesto 2012 of Education Directorate of Milan, in which it states "Children as good of each and everyone's responsibility", including consideration of the elderly as a valuable educational resource and empower the growth and education of the new generations, using also the styles and similar lifetimes.

Has your solution been tested in trials, experimentations, or pilot projects? If yes, please describe the process and outcome.

From 2002 to 2009 the schools of Kindergarten in Milan, has experienced the proposal by relating the elderly, with their experience and their capabilities, and the children, with their desire to learn. An experience that involved 72 grandfathers and grandmothers, 42 kindergarten and 6,500 children.
The project "Grandparents came back to school" was one of the 4 projects selected and identified in the Pedagogical Model of the City of Milan "in function of the intrinsic link with the design culture of the Childhood School" and as capable of "create or strengthen the link between the school system and the external social reality. "
The experience was one of three projects selected and analyzed by the Catholic University of Milan in the search "Taking care between generations", edited by Prof. Giovanna Rossi, as characterized by "a style marked by the intervention relationship", being so "an opportunity to generate social capital" and "read a latent need (the need of the relationship between generations)”.
And it was one of the 2 projects selected and cited by Dr. Silvia Vegetti Finzi in his speech "The relationship between the generations: longevity as a resource".

How long has your solution been in operation?

for 1‐5 years

Please select the relationship between your solution and related solutions currently established in our society. Is your solution…

independent (your solution is approaching a problem that has not been approached before)

What barriers might hinder the success of your initiative? How do you plan to overcome them?

The internal weakness could be: interpersonal skills of the elderly, the tightness of participation than the age of the subjects involved, the need for reorganization of kindergarten, the timing in which schools will join and the personal availability of the elderly, the proximity of school with the community of life of the elderlies.
On these weakness the project will intervene with the selection and training of volunteers conducted by a psychologist and with the methodology built. Monitoring item will be: tutoring relationships, extensive recruitment and functional replacements, update the combinations kindergarten/ grandfather to target recruitment strategy.

Organization and funding
Regularly paid employees






External advisers and experts


Others (please specify)


What are the specific professional backgrounds and competencies your team brings to the initiative?

The project team will consist of:
a secretariat and coordinating volunteers, a project manager for monitoring and external relations,
a facilitator of training processes with specific attention to the participatiry construction of laboratory intergenerational, a psychologist by training, expert on intergenerational dynamics of the group and for the selection of volunteers.

Please describe your management or coordination structure in the initiative.

The project will active a permanent governance structure to monitor and ensure the management processes and organizational and functional evaluation, modeling and replicability of the intervention.
It will be activated meeting of exchange of views with school leaders and teachers using specific result measurement instruments. There will also be meetings to follow up with volunteers for the creation of a shared methodology and to develop empowerment and socialization.

Please provide the total yearly budget in Euro that your initiative spends on implementing the solution.

10.000 €

National public funding

20 %

European Union public funding


Economic return from own products/services


Foundations and philanthropy capital


Single donations from private individuals


Donations from private companies


Crowdfunding platforms


Participation fees


Other (please specify)

30% from own funding

Target group, scale and impact
Which target group(s) do you want to reach with your solution?

The target groups are the elderly, children and Kindergarten (3-06 years) in Milan.
The elderly who show the desire, energy, and time available to devote to the community. Older people who self-perceive the personal wealth of skills, interests and hobbies as "Treasures" to be transmitted and revive. Children who often have no relationship opportunities and experiences between generations. The public Kindergarten are beneficiaries as education staff will have the support of educational workshops during school hours and will be supported methodologically to stabilize the resource grandfather.

Please estimate the number of persons within your target group (users, clients, etc.) that you currently reach directly with your solution.

100 elderlies, 1200 children and 40 kindergarten

In which local/regional/national area(s) is the solution currently implemented?

the project will be implemeted in Milan, the capital of the Lombardy, one of the main regions of northern Italy.

What is the impact on your target group (users, clients) you want to generate?

The impact is measurable in 60 interviews of knowledge and selection of grandparents, activation of 40 grandparents volunteers, structuring least 5 training meetings and one monthly meeting to 27 children), the involvement of 40 Childhood schools of Milan. As social impact, the project promotes the implementation of the social capital of grandparents, the value of senior citizen's knowledge in terms of social and self-recognition, the strengthening of relationships between elderly and children, even outside of the school, the increased sensitivity of the school intergenerational practices.

What is the wider impact on society you want to generate?

The wider impact of the project can be found on: 1) active citizenship of the elderly peolple. Specifically: quality proposals, held of the participation, willingness to serve socially useful roles in terms of mobility, time, creativity, satisfaction 2) intergenerational relationships as a factor of social cohesion: an increase of social and relational capital, new exchanges between actors 3) implementation of the capacity and resources of the school system: implementation of technical and relational skills of the schools, expanding educational provision, and the system model.

What are the impacts on your target group you already achieved?

To date, the project has improved the social role of the elderly as active citizen and implemented social relations between groups of elderly people and their community, affecting loneliness and the dispersion of capital experiential.
It 'was therefore possible to expand the supply of kindergarten and support the educational staff, increasing the availability of educational agencies to accommodate, in a systematic way, latent resources of welfare and work with no profit organizations.

How has the impact of your initiative been assessed?

Experience-based self-assessment (you assessed the impacts based on your experiences with the target group), Self-evaluation (you used qualitative and/or quantitative methods to assess impacts), External evaluation of impacts based on quantitative methods (quantitative measurement of impact indicators).

Public information and strategy
What information on your initiative is publicly available?

Mission and strategy, Organisational structure, Evaluation report, Activity report.

Please indicate webpage or contact for obtaining the respective information.
What are your milestones for further developing, implementing, and establishing your initiative in the next three years? Please describe 1-3 milestones.

The model and methodology represent an operational prototype with immediate growth potential both in terms of application and spread in the school system in Milan, also providing for export to subsequent educational levels as the first classes of primary school, both in terms of integration the project in the network of institutional actors in charge to develop volunteering and active citizenship, given the trend of an aging population in Milan.
Another field of development refers to the activation of technical sponsors for the supply of materials for the laboratories of the grandparents.