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“HPL Centre - High Performance Learning” project conference

October the 21st, 2023 - 09.00 a.m.

Hall of the Opera Munifica Istruzione - Via San Massimo 21, Turin


Two years after the trial of the HPL Centre opened in the Educatorio della Divina Provvidenza in Turin and following the opening of five other Centres in Northern Turin, Biella, Savigliano, Alessandria and Novara, the project presents its first validated results.

During the “HPL Centre - High Performance Learning” project conference, after the introduction by Giovanni Ferrero, Director of the Consultation for People in Difficulty (CPD),  the first part will show the results of the scientific research conducted for the 2022-2023 school year by Dr. Stefania Brighenti, a psychologist specialised in neuropsychology, and those of the outcome and social impact assessment by the Emanuela Zancan Foundation onlus.

This will be followed by the panel dedicated to the topic "Limited Intellectual Functioning and Cognitive Enhancement" in which speakers will include Fabio Celi, psychologist and psychotherapist, specialist in Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapy, lecturer in Clinical Psychology at the University of Pisa, Marco Bertelli, psychiatrist and psychotherapist, Scientific Director of the Research and Clinical Centre (CREA) of the San Sebastiano Foundation and Dr. Orazio Pirro, Director of Child Neuropsychiatry at the ASL Turin, with moderation by Prof. Barbara Urdanch, pedagogical coordinator of the Centro HPL project. Orazio Pirro, Director of Child Neuropsychiatry at the ASL of Turin with the moderation of Prof. Barbara Urdanch, pedagogical coordinator of the HPL Centre project.

The project, devised by CPD and Association for Neglected Rights (the Italian ADN) with funding from the Piedmont Region and support from Enel Cuore, the Enel Group's non-profit organisation, is intended as a valuable support for families with children with cognitive fragility. Through the application of new techniques to enhance the learning of those pupils gravitating in the grey area of Limited Intellectual Functioning, the workshops offered by the HPL Centres scattered throughout the region, all free of charge and carried out by psycho-pedagogical teams of excellence, are at the forefront in Italy in supporting those who have greater difficulties both at school and in life due to a condition of neurodiversity.

"When we started with the first HPL Centre - says Giovanni Ferrero, CPD Director - we didn't think we would have 6 Centres open today, two in Turin and the others in the provinces of Piedmont, with several boys and girls already attending them regularly. Limited Intellectual Functioning (ILF) accounts for 7% of the Italian school population and becomes an issue when the school and educating community are not aware of it and consequently not adequately prepared. These Centres are not only designed for the child who attends them, but also for those behind him or her: from the families to the educational institutions, including the various professionals who look after them. Our goal is definitely to follow the youngest children, also with the help of their parents, but above all to go directly into the school and make the entire teaching staff understand that with a different and more inclusive didactics, we can make sure that no one in the classroom feels abandoned and above all does not feel 'in the locker room' when everyone else is already in the game. From this point of view, we are very pleased with the objectives achieved and to present at the conference the first scientific results that have emerged from this experiment together with the fundamental evaluation of its impact on the educational network involved".

Prof. Barbara Urdanch, pedagogical coordinator and university lecturer with expertise in learning disorders and inclusive education, emphasises: "The HPL project was created to support the 'grey band' of girls and boys with borderline intellectual function. They are many and many, and they have very little voice. The project has shown that, through the two parallel paths implemented within the project's 'cognitive gymnasium', i.e. the strengthening of executive functions (attention, memory, planning and organisation, inhibition, cognitive flexibility) and the strengthening of skills related to explicit learning (reading, writing, calculation, text comprehension, etc.), a truly unprecedented prevention action is implemented. Don Milani's still highly topical motto 'not one less' is the 'pedagogical engine' of our multidisciplinary teams: psychologists and psychologists, learning tutors, pedagogist and neuropsychologist implement individualised paths to 'change the destinies' of these pupils. And after two years of experimentation, we can say that the results shared at the conference on 21 October affirm that we are on the right track”.

"With the opening of the five Piedmontese HPL centres, we have launched an ambitious, innovative and courageous project, on which we have been working for years, that makes Piedmont a region at the forefront in supporting the most fragile minors -  explains Regional Councillor for the Family, with responsibility for Children, Chiara Caucino - The HPL centres take care of an important segment of male and female students who were previously totally ignored, creating a sort of 'grey area' where the protagonist was hardship. With this project, we have put in place an important form of accompaniment, different from that for boys and girls diagnosed with 'DSA - Specific Learning Disorder', but no less important in that it helps prevent school drop-out, behavioural deviance and episodes of self-harm, as well as really helping these children and their families".

"We are proud to support such an important project that in a short time has become a flagship of the country's education. A virtuous initiative that grows every day thanks also to the dedication of the professionals of the HPL centres who offer their skills to accompany children with fragility in the path of educational inclusion," said Filippo Rodriguez, Managing Director of Enel Cuore. "This year Enel Cuore has turned 20, an important milestone reached together with all the realities that in this long journey have shown the same passion as us, and thanks to the continuous support of projects such as the HPL centre that looks to the future and has the ambition not to leave anyone behind".