The Youth Project builds workshops and artistic projects that offer patients special means of expression to talk about themselves. Carried out with the guidance of professionals, these projects usually last several months and have different purposes and implications:
- ·they give the patients an important opportunity for sharing and discussion, bringing together those undergoing treatment and those who return to the hospital specifically for the project, even if they have already finished their cancer treatments. For the former, spending time with survivors offers positive examples to aim for; for the latter, returning to the hospital for projects represents a precious help during a delicate time of transition, like a bridge between their life during treatment and the life they return to once the therapies are over;
- they offer adolescent and young adult patients the possibility of freely expressing their emotions, their fears, their hopes, through creative languages (music, photography, poetry) that can be more easygoing and lively tools than plain words. For the patients, expressing themselves may allow them to process what is happening, to better understand it and accept it. For the treating staff, these projects represent precious windows into the psychological world of these young patients;
- they give our patients moments of normality (or apparent normality) and space for levity, laughter and colors, in the middle of their path of illness and treatment, reminding everyone (even themselves) that before being patients they are above all adolescents;
- they allow the young patients involved in projects with professionals, to feel important (during a potentially very critical moment for their self-esteem);
- they offer patients a different sense of the future, with projects lasting many months; thinking and planning ahead in time can have great value for young people who had plans for the future (driving license, university, a trip with friends) and suddenly find themselves only seeing in their horizon the date of discharge or the date of the next chemotherapy cycle;
- they give patients – and doctors – the opportunity to speak to the community, to attract the attention of mass media with impactful projects, even on purely medical aspects.
After each project, the staff of the Youth Project produces a scientific publication in an international peer-reviewed journal. The scientific publications of the Youth Project have somehow given rise to a new type of scientific literature focused on the voice of young patients, proposing the Youth Project as an organizational model to be followed and duplicated in other centers.