Type of Information
Comitato Città Viva
Virginia Anna Crovella (Einloggen um Email zu versenden)
Contact Person Function
Atmospheric pollution, a high level of car traffic and lack of a good pedestrian infrastructure have encouraged the emergence of sustainable mobility projects within civil society in Italy. Among these initiatives, the Piedibus ('walking bus' in English) is a free project aimed at accompanying primary school pupils from their homes to their schools - and vice versa - on foot. The project promotes the participation of asylum seekers and refugees, thereby strengthening inclusion in receiving communities.
Issue/Challenge and Goal/Assumption
The Piedibus project — active in Caserta since 2009 and led by local association Comitato Città Viva — aims to support sustainable forms of mobility, reducing traffic, denouncing inadequacies at the urban level, increasing children’s physical activity while also overcoming racism and promoting integration. Asylum seekers and refugees participate in the initiative at different levels.
The goal of the project is to cross multiple areas of intervention:
Education: the Piedibus project is considered a complementary and integrative tool to the institutional school system. It educates children on road safety and contributes to raising awareness around the importance of both sustainable mobility and care of the environment.
Urban: the Piedibus project aims at promoting improvements and changes at the infrastructural level. Children and drivers have the opportunity to collect and report obstacles, urban inadequacies and deficiencies.
Integration: the inclusion of asylum seekers and refugees in the Piedibus project permits to them to take part in a process of active citizenship through engagement with the local community. By sharing a common associative experience, it contributes to an intercultural dialogue, reduces discriminatory and xenophobic tendencies, and foster a new sense of belonging on the part of migrants.
How does it work
The Piedibus project relies on a local associative network, composed of Comitato Città Viva, Associazione Comitato per il Centro Sociale, the Municipality of Caserta and different local educational institutes (the number of which may vary from year to year).
From a practical point of view, the Piedibus works as a school bus, but it moves on foot. It relies on predetermined routes, with fixed timetables and stops. All these aspects are annually planned, before the start of the school year, in agreement with the involved schools and the families of the participating children.
Along the Piedibus route, children—supported by their “drivers”—have the opportunity to symbolically fine motorists disrespectful to road rules and to collect the urban inadequacies and deficiencies. The obstacles identified will be successively collected in a specific dossier to be presented to the local institutions, urging them to intervene in maintenance operations, i.e. the realisation of safe pedestrian crossings, installation of litter bins, repairing of damaged pavements and removal of architectural barriers.
The involvement of asylum seekers and refugees who are hosted in the local reception system (today known as SAI—System of Reception and Integration) dates back to 2011. Since 2016, the system has been more structured and the number of asylum seekers and refugees hosted has increased from 70 to 200. The participation of these asylum seekers and refugees is fully voluntary, and the Piedibus is in fact just one of the many activities proposed to beneficiaries of the reception system. Most asylum seekers and refugees participate in the programme as “Piedibus drivers”, while a small group of them is engaged both in the planning and the implementation of the initiative.
On the one hand, the project provides migrants with opportunities for meeting and relating to the city’s inhabitants. On the other hand, their involvement in the programme contributes to the development of intercultural relations and, consequently, to the reduction of xenophobic and mistrust feelings. Along the Piedibus route, children and drivers with a migration background have the opportunity to get to know each other better: pupils come into contact with diversity, while asylum seekers and refugees are offered the opportunity to improve their Italian, to meet the local community and to actively engage in social programmes. The participation in a common project also enhances the relations between asylum seekers and/or refugees and children’s families, as it strengthens mutual trust and intercultural dialogue.
Since 2009, the Piedibus project has become more deeply rooted in the territory and more widespread within the city. Although it is currently in a phase of inactivity due to the consequences of the global COVID-19 pandemic and related school closures, the Piedibus project reached its peak in terms of participation between 2018 and 2019, when it involved five school complexes out of eleven in Caserta, 200 families and 120 volunteers, 30% of whom were asylum seekers and refugees hosted in the local reception programme.
In particular, since 2016, 81 asylum seekers and refugees have been involved in the project. Among them, 13 have begun a more stable and lasting active citizenship path, participating consistently and for a long period in the project, in some cases even after the end of their time in the reception programme. Nowadays, two beneficiaries of the reception programme are trainees of local association “Associazione Comitato per il Centro Sociale”, while four have become employees, working in the reception system as cultural mediators.
In 2017 the Piedibus project was selected as an example of a best practice in integration by the national reception system for asylum seekers and refugees (SAI).
Who will benefit?
Piedibus’ main beneficiaries are children, families, asylum seekers and refugees hosted in the local reception system. Although the Piedibus project was set up to promote innovative forms of sustainable mobility, it can be said to play an important role in the integration paths of migrants residing in the territory.
Source of funding and Resources used
The project relies mainly on voluntary work. Since inception, it has been financially supported by a few different resources:
- from 2009 to 2012, it was organised without any form of financial support;
- from 2013 to 2016, it received two consecutive grants from “Fondazione con il Sud”;
- from 2016 to the present day, it has been financially supported by the System of Reception and Integration (SAI) as an activity for facilitating the integration of asylum seekers and refugees within the local social fabric of Italy.
Sporadically the Piedibus project receives in-kind donations of useful equipment, such as high‐visibility jackets.