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Social well-being laboratories by Associazione Oltre in Bologna

In the prevention and health promotion category, the project works on youth and intergenerational connections, so its target audience are those between middle childhood to adolescence. Three workshops have been carried out.

By CultureForHealth

Social well-being laboratories

Implemented by Associazione Oltre (AO), member of Trans Europe Halles (TEH), Italy



Children, especially among disadvantaged communities, with a migration background, with physical disabilities, or from families with a low income, tend to be more isolated and with fewer opportunities to socialize between each other and with adults. The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the problem even further, especially when leading to more mental health problems. 

The aim of the project is to empower the relational skills of those categories of society that are often overlooked when designing cities and its services. 



Associazione Oltre in Bologna, Italy initiated a project to promote intergenerational social well-being through participatory arts and culture. The project consists of a series of social well-being laboratories in the form of arts and crafts workshops across various neighborhoods in the city. The social wellbeing laboratories aim to support the social well-being of children in disadvantaged communities, youth and intergenerational relations, and is targeted at middle childhood to adolescence.



- Identifying cross-sectoral local stakeholders (health, education and public administration) relevant to social-wellbeing laboratories (SWLs)

- Forming creative partnerships with cross-sectoral local stakeholders to enhance social well-being of target groups in the local community

- Identifying target groups in the local community for improving their social well-being.

- Co-defining social well-being indicators and key outcomes together with local stakeholders.

- Co-designing the SWLs’ program with local stakeholders

- Developing a participatory social well-being model driven by culture, arts, and crafts

- Sharing learnings from SWL development as practice-driven knowledge for culture and well-being


1.2 Format

The project consisted of a lot of "laboratories" in various public spaces outside the city center including parks and piazzas, to bring kids and adults together around creative activities. The participants of the laboratories co-designed, co-produced, and co-trained the costumes and props for the whale parade. Within the context of the proposed action, the whale project experimented with and developed the already existing laboratory models with the aim of transforming four laboratories to "social-wellbeing laboratories" (SWL).

The project carried out more than twenty arts and crafts workshops in various neighbourhoods in the city. Three workshops were selected for monitoring and study to assess their effects on participants' health and well-being. These workshops aimed at different communities living both in central and peripheral areas of the city. The workshops used experimental music, dance and samba, and music craft. 

The workshops were conducted between April and May 2022, prior to the Parade, which takes place annually and is dedicated to a different animal every year. 

Also, the project included four workshops with stakeholders, and four workshops with identified target groups (SWL). The project reached out to ten stakeholders (organizations), 100 participants in the four SWLs, created a stakeholder map, a prognosis report (after the pilot workshop), and a final report with a social well-being matrix prototype.