The Dream Gym

A place to experience autonomy, freedom, and imagination.
Silvia Colombini

“If I were the mayor of Bologna, I would increase the green areas with parks and lawns and even with some vegetable gardens.” “I would erase that useless graffiti.” “I would promote culture.” These are the testimonies of Luis and Dario, two middle school boys who participated in the Dream Gym.

Light games a the Dream Gym, Istituto Cavazza, BolognaThe project, born within the Cavazza Institute and made possible thanks to the contribution of the Carisbo Foundation and the Hera Group, saw the creation of a space dedicated to visual and visual-motor stimulation activities in a playful context. With the educational supervision of Dr. Serena Cimini and the scientific supervision of Dr. Federico Bartolomei, a staff member of the Cavazza Institute, in truth the Dream Gym was much more. The participants, girls and boys of different ages divided into two groups according to age and personal characteristics, took part in the initiative and talked about their experiences and dreams. Because those who see differently are also capable of imagining a better world and a better future. Lights and games for learning, Istituto Cavazza, Bologna

Sharing this experience with a peer dedicated to encouraging shared stimulation became an opportunity for the very young to tell their stories and for the Institute and the city to collect the suggestions of the youngest regarding what could be done in the city not only to reduce the distances between those who see more and those who see less, but also to improve the quality of life for all. If there is one thing capable of breaking down barriers, differences, and discrimination, it is imagination. Qualities with which little ones are very gifted. Indeed, they have a whole life ahead of them and therefore have the ability to conceive it in a different way from what a society, not always attentive to their needs, imposes on them. 

Games using light and movement at the Dream Gym, Istituto Cavazza, BolognaIn addition to trying their hand at games that, thanks to the latest technology, combine coordination, concentration and cooperative spirit, the participants provided their feedback. Collected and edited into a video, the words of these children, who are growing up with a visual impairment, talk about their dreams and views of reality and the future. Some people imagine self-driving cars, or cities with culture at the centre, a life in clean, green, technological places, capable of welcoming everyone and where there are equal opportunities for all.

The Dream Gym has therefore become a valuable opportunity where, as Dr. Federico Bartolomei says, “In addition to eliminating and reducing visual barriers, distances are reduced between those who see more and those who see less for equal integration.” Dario, Luis, Viola and Beatrice, bathed in a play of light, illuminated the world to come with their enthusiasm and ideas. Now it would be nice to be able to take the Dream Gym beyond the doors of the Cavazza Institute, organizing meetings and moments of sharing in other contexts as well, to make people understand that, often, it is we who impose our own barriers. In our cities, unfortunately, there is still a lot of inequality towards those living with disabilities, and this is even worse for the younger people. In a visionary world, it would be ideal if everyone could grow up with the same opportunities. Often, obstacles and barriers are more psychological than architectural. Of course, eliminating the physical ones in order to favour mobility is already a step forward, but being able to imagine a world where knowledge, culture and participation in a social and working life is also accessible to all is what the young people of the Dream Gym hope for and believe in. Listening to their words and imagining with them is already a step towards a world where inclusion and integration do not remain a dream but become reality.

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