COVID 19 EMERGENCY - Support for Summer Camps at Parco Natura Viva

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Project location: Italy, Bussolengo
Project start date: June 2020 - Project end date: September 2020
Project number: 2020-038
Beneficiary: Fondazione A.R.C.A. Animal Research Conservation in Action

A.R.C.A. Foundation (Animal Research Conservation in Action) supports the activities carried out by Parco Natura Viva of Bussolengo (VR), to fulfill its mission of protecting nature and the environment for the benefit of the community.

The demanding role that Parco Natura Viva has assumed, as center for the conservation of endangered animal species, is as ambitious as it is stimulating. Today, the institutional functions of a modern zoological garden, embrace the conservation of biodiversity in many aspects and can be summarized in three bases:

The survival of the natural environments and of several animal species is seriously under threat by the quick increase of the global population and by the increase of the demand of natural resource.
The risk factors that affect the integrity of the global ecological system also weigh on mankind, the only species that with a sensible behavior could not only save itself, but could work for the conservation of nature.

Parco Natura Viva is committed to support, promote and carry on researches that improve the management of captive animals, bring benefits to the conservation programmes and that contribute to the scientific knowledge of animals and their habitats.

The Educational Department of Parco Natura Viva, formed by 6 professional figures, has the task of carrying out a scientific and accurate zoological information on animal species and their situation in nature, and to raise awareness among people, especially the new generations, regarding the need to reach a more sustainable behaviour, through “a new ecological lifestyle”. 
As centers of Environmental Education, the zoological gardens, therefore fulfill some of the Global Goals for the sustainable development, agreed by the United Nations:
• Number 4: “providing a quality scientific education” through information and awareness-raising among the visiting audience;
• Number 12: “promoting in society good practices for a responsible consumption of the natural and non-natural resources of our planet, trying to reduce the waste production;
• Number 13: “stimulating public to choose more sustainable life choices, in order to fight the climate change.

Many are the proposals given to the families, as a support for the management of their children free time.

Since 2009 PNV organizes and manages Summer Camps with the Conservation Education process, that influences people’s attitudes, emotions, knowledge, and behaviors about wildlife and wild places.
This is done through the efforts of skilled educators and interpreters, who use a variety of techniques, methods, and assessments to reconnect people with the natural world. 

PNV is the perfect location for the Outdoor Education, which its aim is to develop outdoor educational activities to learn through the direct observation
of animals and the mediation of expert guides (educators-naturalists).

As a consequence of the lockdown linked to the COVID-19 emergency, many families have returned to work in different ways / working timetables and shifts and during summer they find themselves increasingly in need of being able to take advantage of places to have their children attend to summer camps.

At the same time, always due of the COVID emergency, many structures that in the past years have organized or hosted summer camps for minors, due to the prohibitive requests for very strict protocols that also impose an increased cost of running summer camps, this summer they weren’t able to repropose these summer camps.

For this reason, the request of parents is very high, due to the decrease of the places that host summer camps, and because the number of the children admitted has been reduced.

Summer Camps hosted at PNV since 2009, offer to children in primary and secondary schools, a way to achieve knowledge of the natural world and inspire to protect nature through playful and recreational activities, focusing on the animals behavior and habits.

During this post-lockdown period, children are in need of resume relationships with friends and peers, and regain possession of all the actions typical of their ages, and the activities proposed by PNV Summer Camps, help to provide the establishment of new ties between the participants and to grow by testing their skills.

The restrictions and guidelines require to distance individual groups, thus greatly limiting the number of children and youth that PNV can host.

This project, which received a grant from the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation, aims to purchase, position and set up three gazebos to double the existing structures. This request is essential in order to have additional indoor areas that allow to host a greater number of groups, both from primary and secondary schools. In addition, the proposal could also be extended to teenager users of PNV and therefore involve subjects who, precisely because of their age, have had great repercussions on individual development and personality maturity due to restrictions on social relations. As has already been experienced during the first weeks of summer, although it is essential to carry out many outdoor activities, it is also necessary to have covered structures both to cope with adverse weather situations and to guarantee environments suitable for some of the proposed experiences.

PNV can currently confirm the registration of 28 children each week, who are divided into 4 groups. With the new facilities, this number could more than double, since the groups of children in secondary schools can consist of 10 participants according to Covid guidelines. 

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