A centre of excellence for rehabilitation with many innovative services: hydrotherapy pool, specialised outpatient clinics, immersive room, FabLab to create tailor-made aids, support for school drop-outs and a Bistrot to initiate older children into the world of work.
A large, integrated centre at the cutting edge of technology to offer the best specialist care to children and young people with serious neurological pathologies, but also a beautiful place open to the city, which even includes a Bistrot, where social and work inclusion of these young people can be concretely promoted and the culture of disability spread. Today the new TOG Carlo De Benedetti Centre is officially inaugurated in Milan, via Livigno 1.
The structure is located in the area that hosted the ex-public showers, granted free of charge for thirty years by the Municipality of Milan to Fondazione TOG - Together To Go Onlus, a non-profit organisation committed since 2011 to offering free treatment to children and young people with serious neurological pathologies.
TOG completely redeveloped the area, demolishing the existing building. In its place, the new Centre was built on three floors, with a total area of 3,000 square metres and 600 square metres of underground parking, which is energy sustainable thanks to a photovoltaic park.
The innovative project was realised entirely with private funds, with a total investment of around 13 million of euros. A dream come true thanks to the philanthropic action of TOG's chairman, Carlo De Benedetti, combined with the generous support of many donors - foundations, companies, private citizens, universities and museums - who contributed to the project both through the direct disbursement of financial resources and by providing goods, services and technology free of charge.
The President of TOG Foundation Carlo De Benedetti and Secretary General Antonia Madella cut the ribbon for the new centre for children's disabilities; with them were Minister for Disability Alessandra Locatelli, Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala and Regional Councillor for Family, Social Solidarity, Disability and Equal Opportunities Elena Lucchini. Also present was the team of architects and engineers who designed the new building, led by Arch. Ciro Noja (architectural project) and Eng. Maurizio Milan (works management and executive project).
The new TOG Centre can offer care and support to 200 children per year. Here, families can count on comprehensive care, including not only treatment and rehabilitation but also educational accompaniment in the schooling process and, for older children, preparation for professional and independent life.
“TOG was born from an impulse of my family to involve everyone in a philanthropic initiative - says TOG Foundation president Carlo De Benedetti - Antonia was our inspiration, identifying an activity that would help children born with serious neurological problems. In these 12 years we have grown a lot and have decided to commit ourselves to creating our own premises and welcoming more children. The new TOG centre is, on the one hand, a satisfaction for the success achieved in these years and, on the other hand, a glimpse into the future, committing significant resources to be able to expand the activity and create a second home for the children who rely on our care".
"I remember as if it were today TOG's Open Day in September 2012 in the Viale Famagosta Health Centre. - says TOG Foundation Secretary General Antonia Madella - Many people, friends, supporters, children we would care for and families we would support in the years to come. Today, a new adventure begins: we open the new Centre in Via Livigno on land belonging to the City of Milan. A bigger place which can treat more children, which can offer more rehabilitation opportunities, and which has state-of-the-art technology in the service of improving the quality of life of those who suffer enormous hardship on a daily basis. TOG is a beautiful place because we believe that beauty helps to endure the hardships in the lives of those we care for and their families. The challenge is great, but we are aware that we can count on the help of many who have supported us and who we are sure will continue to do so".
"Today is an important day for children and families who have found a point of reference in TOG over the years, and it is also an important day for Milan. - says Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala - With the inauguration of the new headquarters of the Together To Go Foundation, the city is endowed with a centre of excellence in the treatment and rehabilitation pathways for young patients suffering from complex neurological pathologies. TOG had long been looking for a suitable space to fully realise the quality social project that has guided the non-profit organisation's activities for over 10 years. And we are proud that this space was found in the unused public area of the former showers in Via Livigno”.
Here, in detail, are the additional services made available to children and families in the new TOG Carlo De Benedetti Centre.
The facility includes specialist outpatient clinics to address, through customised pathways, each specific problem related to the disease. The health of children with complex neurological pathologies in fact requires the intervention of professionals specialised in different areas, including nutrition, orthopaedics, physiatrics, sensory deficit problems, psychic and behavioural fragility, and neurological disorders.
The new Centre includes a fully accessible hydrotherapy pool (6x9 metres) with warm water (33°C) and the AngelEye for Therapy system which, thanks to a network of aerial and underwater video cameras, is able to analyse progress, enabling targeted analysis by physiotherapists. Hydrotherapy is a great added value of the Centre: in water, in fact, thanks to the partial absence of gravity, even children and young people suffering from complex pathologies have the opportunity to move, play and relax in a safe environment, under the supervision of qualified personnel, abandoning wheelchairs, walkers and braces for a moment.
Technological innovation paths
The TOG Foundation has always combined traditional rehabilitation techniques with the most advanced technology. In the new Centre, this pathway is further developed, with three spaces dedicated to the use of the most innovative technological systems.
- Ulysses Room: here, thanks to the presence of six projectors (on the wall and floor), children can enjoy an immersive and interactive experience based on different stories co-designed by TOG therapists. A room where children and young people with disabilities can bring out and enhance their unexpressed resources and potential through research and experimentation with innovative technologies.
- Nirvana Room: Virtual Reality Nirvana is a fully immersive system applied to the neuromotor and neurocognitive rehabilitation of patients with neurological disorders. It exploits interactive technologies combined with a movement analysis device: each action of the child corresponds to highly stimulating and rehabilitative audiovisual feedback. The system is preconfigured with a series of exercises that can be customised. Nirvana also keeps track of each activity, making it possible to monitor the progress of the therapeutic process.
- Eye tracking rooms: eyetracker technology has a very important role to play in helping children who cannot express themselves and relate to each other to understand more deeply their unexpressed cognitive potential. In these rooms, the eye-tracker is associated with a tablet controlled by the therapist, which makes it possible to see precisely what the child is looking at and how long, in order to calibrate the tool and customise it as needed. These new spaces are also dedicated to the training of caregivers and teachers in the use of this tool to promote paths of inclusion in the daily contexts of the child's life.
An absolutely innovative element of the facility is the FabLab, i.e. a laboratory for the creation, research and manufacture of customised solutions that promote the autonomy of children and young people with disabilities: aids and everyday objects but also games. The space is open to students, clinicians and families for co-design and participation in training workshops. The FabLab is located on the ground floor of the Centre, with a total area of 238 square metres, and is divided into several areas equipped with digital fabrication machinery and technologies. It includes a 3D printing room, an orthopaedic laboratory and a workshop equipped with large machinery to create simple objects, such as writing support tools, or complex ones, such as bicycles for children with cerebral palsy.
The Bistrot at the TOG Centre, open to all citizens, is promoted by the Maestro Martino Association chaired by Chef Carlo Cracco, which for years has been committed to fostering the future generations of Italian catering and the food products of the Lombardy region in Italy and abroad. A beautiful place of excellence, designed to 'open' the world of TOG to the outside world, offering an opportunity for mutual exchange and enrichment. One of the objectives of the project is to initiate young people with fragility into the world of work, accompanying them on a path of tutoring and customised training.
A School Service is provided in the new Centre, with the aim of supporting children and young people with learning difficulties: a place of support and training for children, their parents and all those involved in their learning and growth.
The new centre also acts as a point of reference for specialised training in the treatment of complex neurological disorders and the dissemination of disability culture. To this end, courses and seminars are planned for rehabilitation therapists, doctors, psychologists, educational personnel, teachers, caregivers and parents.
The new TOG Centre aims to become a reference point for the orientation, training, assessment and accompaniment to work of people with disabilities and their families, also through awareness-raising and training activities for companies. As in the case of care, the insertion model envisages a global taking on of the person and an enhancement of each person's potential through customised pathways.
One of the founding principles of the TOG Foundation's philosophy is that rehabilitation and treatment can be more effective if implemented in a beautiful place. Urpflanze is the project prepared by the artist Giovanni Frangi for the new Centre: a long frieze placed in the corridor on the first floor and at the entrance to the building, in which a series of images related to nature chase one another. Urpflanze is also a homage to Goethe's Italian Journey, where the great German writer explains how the universality of nature is something external and internal to each of us.
For the inauguration of the new TOG Centre, Simone Mizzotti's photographs were also exhibited, recounting the progress of the construction site since the laying of the foundation stone in September 2021, and the work Lorica (2021) by sculptor Fabio Viale. The latter in particular will be open to the public until 9 November, the date of the 2nd edition of GoodStArt, the auction of contemporary art, design and photography organised by Fondazione TOG in collaboration with Christie's Italia and Triennale Milano.
At this link you can see a short video presenting the new TOG Centre (you can download the high-definition version here).
Below is a list of all the organisations that contributed to the realisation of the new Carlo De Benedetti TOG Centre.
Donors of grants - Major supporters: Cariplo Foundation, Intesa Sanpaolo, Bolton Hope Foundation, Fedez Foundation, Peppino Vismara Foundation, Enel Cuore Onlus.
Together with the Albertini family, Allen & Overy, ANDAF, Niccolò Branca, Studio Legale Gatti Pavesi Bianchi Ludovici, Decathlon Foundation, Mariani Foundation, Jonhson & Jonhson Foundation, UBI Banca Popolare Commercio e Industria Foundation, Vodafone Italia Foundation, OTB Foundation.
Donors of goods and services - Accuracy, BSH, Cimbali Group S.p.A., Grohe, Linea Grafica, Marsh, Milani, Riva, UniFor, Molteni&C; Mapei; Nidi; Verde Profilo; TTM Rossi; Epson; Theatro; IGuzzini; Duravit; Thema; Florim; Pellini; Schüco; AGC; Assa Abloy Entrance Systems.
Technical partners - Arch. Ciro Noja; Milan Ingegneria; GMS; United Consulting; Umberto DeMichelis; Borio Mangiarotti; Acustica Applicata Misure di rumore; Delta Tecno Studio; Exhibo Spa, Pasalabs.
Project partners - Associazione Maestro Martino (TOG Bistrot Project); AngelEye (hydrotherapy pool); Superforma and Opendot (TOG Fablab Project); Zebra (Ulysses Room); BTS (Nirvana Room); Leonardo da Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology and Milan Polytechnic (research and training activities in new technologies).
TOG Foundation - Together To Go Onlus
The TOGETHER TO GO (TOG) Foundation is a non-profit organisation of social utility (Onlus), established at the end of 2011. It is based in Milan, in via Livigno 1, where it has set up a large integrated centre (over 3,000 square metres) and at the cutting edge of technology, to offer the best specialist care to children and young people with serious neurological pathologies, in particular Cerebral Palsy and Genetic Syndromes with Mental Retardation. The neurocognitive rehabilitation offered to young patients aims to stimulate their personality development and enhance their abilities, despite the complexity of the pathology. Each child has an individualised rehabilitation pathway that is structured according to his or her life needs. TOG is an aid to public health, because its is a private centre, born out of philanthropic action, but which treats free of charge.