A Prada Group project in partnership with UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission in the context of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030.
To mark the International Day of Education (24 January 2023), the Prada Group and UNESCO are launching the “Kindergarten of the Lagoon”, an innovative outdoor education experience for pre-school children in Venice taking place today on the Torcello island. The Kindergarten of the Lagoon is an important step for children to understand more about the ocean and the central role that it plays in sustainable development.
Today’s programme includes outdoor activities throughout the morning for 40 pupils from the six schools joining the project, in the presence of Lorenzo Bertelli, Prada Group Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, UNESCO representatives Vladimir Ryabinin, Ana Luiza M. Thompson-Flores and Francesca Santoro, as well as local institutions, Massimiliano De Martin, Councillor for Urban Planning, Environment and Private Building and Laura Besio, Councillor for Education Policies of the Venice City Council.
The initiative, presented in May 2022 at Ca’ Corner della Regina – the Venetian headquarters of Fondazione Prada – is part of SEA BEYOND, a project led by the Prada Group and UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) since 2019, and aimed at promoting education for the preservation of the sea and its resources. It is contributing to the IOC/UNESCO-led UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, as part of the ‘Ocean Literacy With All’ (OLWA) Ocean Decade Programme, a global initiative key to building understanding of the ocean.
The Kindergarten of the Lagoon’s lesson programme is based on the principles of outdoor education, a didactic approach whose pillars are experiential learning, the environment, and the well-being of those involved, with the aim of creating a link between children and, in this specific case, with the lagoon ecosystem.
In addition to placing nature and science at its centre, this project strives to preserve and enhance local culture and the tradition of Venice which, together with its lagoon, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a witness to the effects of climate change.
The education plan contributes to the development of children and their learning processes by gradually getting them interested in observing fauna and flora and discovering the characteristics they have in common. It is an accessible way to discover a love of natural sciences.
The outdoor lessons will cover different thematic areas such as the relationship between plants, animals and the natural elements of the lagoon, their characteristics, similarities, and differences. Children will explore the beaches, learn through drawing activities, collaborative games, and small science experiments, to recognise and value the lagoon habitat, to become, one day, “civil ambassadors” and “spokespeople” for this heritage. The open dialogue with schools and families, an integral part of the project preparations for the active involvement of all the children, was fundamental in defining the actual programme and its implementation.
The strong relationship with the Venice Municipality was decisive for the success of the project. The outcomes of this open dialogue included an active collaboration with the local departments for Environment and Education, which has supported the initiative since its announcement; the contribution of the Venice City Council, providing a water bus and a tram dedicated to the children’s transfers; and the support of the Emilia Bosis Foundation, lending the spaces of its villa on the island of Torcello to host the first lessons’ cycle.
The bond with the local culture and traditions is also expressed through the work of one Venetian artist, Sofia Sarria (Atelier Volante), dedicated to the children’s educational workshops, who helps them make papier-mâché masks inspired by lagoon animals. A second part of the workshops is led by Elisabetta Mitrovic, natural scientist and artist, who involves the kids in the design of a “nature notebook” to create an artistic view of nature.
“I am proud to attend this first day together with the children of Venice, wishing that the Kindergarten of the Lagoon will continue to grow and that a larger number of young explorers and families will have the pleasure to be part of it, with the hope of developing the project in other cities in the future,” said Lorenzo Bertelli, Prada Group Head of Corporate Social Responsibility.
“IOC of UNESCO believes that childhood ocean education can become a foundation for lifelong emotional well-being. Finding a way in which humanity could learn how-to live-in harmony with the Ocean is one of the pillars of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. I am very happy to inaugurate today, together with Prada, a project that brings the ocean into kids’ lives. And we can dream that they will grow happily, will live sustainably and in peace, and that some of them will become future ocean stewards,” said Vladimir Ryabinin, Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO and Assistant Director-General of UNESCO.
The first cycle of classes will end in June 2023; the new programme will start again in September, according to the schools’ calendar.
About the educational workshops:
Born in 1969 on the seashore of Rome, running between the dunes of Capocotta and the pine forest of Castel Fusano, Elisabetta studied natural sciences at university but specialised in environmental education. For the past 25 years, she has been accompanying adults and children to observe nature through her eyes. She began by working in WWF oases, with school camps, summer camps and guided tours; then for many years, she worked in the Lazio Region Environmental Education Laboratories, dealing with environmental communication and training educators and teachers. For the last few years, she has been working as a freelancer, collaborating with parks, cooperatives and associations dealing with education and communication for nature conservation, also through European projects such as ERASMUS and LIFE.
But there is a road Elisabetta has travelled, parallel to this one. Drawing. Both as an artistic practice and as a learning tool in nature conservation education. Today, she lives with her family in a house in the woods, next to the centuries-old beech forest in Oriolo Romano, but she often travels around Italy and Europe, drawing and narrating the nature she observes in her notebooks and works on paper. Watercolour, tempera, pencils, chalks and Indian ink are her tools. Her sign follows the rhythms of nature, the shapes of animals, the moments of wild beauty that she observes from afar with a telescope.
She is also a nature illustrator working as a freelancer for publishing houses, for the Environment Department of the Lazio Region and the Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Park.
Sofia Sarria (Atelier Volante)
Growing up in Venice in her family’s papier-mâché creations workshop, Sofia still carries on this dying tradition. Sometimes, however, she sets aside the moulds she has inherited and looks for new ways to re-appropriate the processes and techniques she has been taught to experiment in new directions and find new lifeblood for her creativity. Making traditional processes her own, adapting them to her own research and to the changing world: Atelier Volante is not just craftsmanship, it is also Sofia’s very personal way of having her say. And to remind everyone that even a parcel of old newspapers destined for the scrapheap and cardboard boxes used only for the time of a shipment can still be useful. Perhaps giving life to a world populated by strange creatures ready to be part of a fairytale.
Pioneer of a dialogue with contemporary society across diverse cultural spheres and an influential leader in luxury fashion, Prada Group founds its identity on essential values such creative independence, transformation and sustainable development, offering its brands a shared vision to interpret and express their spirit. The Group owns some of the world’s most prestigious luxury brands, Prada, Miu Miu, Church’s, Car Shoe, the historic Pasticceria Marchesi and Luna Rossa.
UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission
The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO (IOC/UNESCO) promotes international cooperation in marine sciences to improve management of the ocean, coasts and marine resources. The IOC enables its 150 Member States to work together by coordinating programmes in capacity development, ocean observations and services, ocean science and tsunami warning. The work of the IOC contributes to the mission of UNESCO to promote the advancement of science and its applications to develop knowledge and capacity, key to economic and social progress, the basis of peace and sustainable development.
The Ocean Decade
Proclaimed in 2017 by the United Nations General Assembly, the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) (‘the Ocean Decade’) seeks to stimulate ocean science and knowledge generation to reverse the decline of the state of the ocean system and catalyze new opportunities for sustainable development of this massive marine ecosystem. The vision of the Ocean Decade is ‘the science we need for the ocean we want’. The Ocean Decade provides a convening framework for scientists and stakeholders from diverse sectors to develop the scientific knowledge and the partnerships needed to accelerate and harness advances in ocean science to achieve a better understanding of the ocean system and deliver science-based solutions to achieve the 2030 Agenda. The UN General Assembly mandated UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC/UNESCO) to coordinate the preparations and implementation of the Decade.
Fondazione Emilia Bosis
The Emilia Bosis Foundation, established in 1998, is dedicated to the reception, care, rehabilitation and, where possible, integration of people with mental distress. Much attention is placed on restoring dignity to the psychiatric patient. The Foundation also pursues its goals through residential and semi-residential facilities.
For further information:
Prada Group Press Office
Anne Ajoux (Communications Officer)
UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe
Vinicius Grunberg Lindoso (Communications Officer)
Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO