One of the biggest recovery communities in the world, San Patrignano, opened its doors last week to ECAD international guests at the WeFree days, October 10-11.

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Our group of 20 persons participated in the high level political Forum organized by the Community guests. This is also an opportunity for parents, schools and those affected by addiction to set the question on national and international agenda, involving foreign speakers and acting politicians, this time - Valeria Fedeli, Italian Minister of Education, University and Research, Gabriele Toccafondi, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Education, University Professors, School rectors, Italian movements of parents and international speakers, e.g. Julie Schauer, founder to Parents Opposed to Pot.

High-level political discussion was vital for ECAD group for accumulating international experience of dealing with addiction recovery, on local and national levels, as a parent and as a key figure in a local community. The topic of the Forum this year was Educating by leaving a positive sign, when teachers and parents together brought up the issue of addiction among the teenagers.
A dramatic change at shools was introduced at place with the involvement of the Minister of Education, by signing a Memorandum of Understanding on prevention education at schools, thereby the educational system strives to make students aware of the implications of the substance use. For the first time in Italy, the need of support to schools provided by the national government was put in print in this document, placing prevention issue in the first place, said Valeria Fedeli, Italian Minister of Education.

Italian society is under a process of altering its attitude to the link between schools and families, updating its stance on gender issues in the cultural context, where girls are more vulnerable, having lower self-esteem and a tendency to use new drugs (synthetic cathinones, Ketamine, etc.). Mrs Roberta Potente from the Department of Epidemiology at the Italian CNR, informed that 40% of 15-19 year olds have tried gambling, allowed from the age of 18 onwards. Annual studies among school students were introduced and in 6 shools a pilot project informing on pathological gambling is running.

Every year the Community of San Patrignano gathers around 15 000 people, who become a part of the WeFree project. Apart from the High level forum, ECAD group spent two days visiting workshops, prefessional and training facilities, theatrical shows and had a private session with questions and answers to the Community guests and recovery specialists. The focus of this dialogue was on overcoming drug addiction in various cultural contexts, sharing experiences and becoming role models for the young people.

ECAD is grateful to SanPatrignano for exceptional hospitality, trust and a lot of insights in the topic, we are looking forward to visit the Community next year!

På grafiska verkstadenfirst meeting
Valeria Fedeli Minister of Education