Dynamo Camp, welcome to Never Never Land

Published on Thursday, 5 December 2019

“Now how am I going to tell my mum that I didn’t miss her at all?”

– One of the little girls at the camp

From Leonardo to action painting

“The Mona Lisa? If Leonardo could do it, so can I!” Sometimes the kids themselves very candidly call themselves artists.  Since 2009, in actual fact, Dynamo Camp has been offering a painting workshop which has turned out to be one of its most popular activities. Every now and then, a professional artist visits and gets the kids involved in shared, individual or small group creative projects.

Activities range from simple drawing to variations on the Mona Lisa which got the budding artists wanting to emulate Leonardo da Vinci, and techniques that can broadly be defined as action painting, such as the time the children had to paint a canvas by punching it in boxing gloves dipped in paint. The result was exhilarating, but splattering paint all over the room was almost as much fun as actually painting.

Some of the art works are exchanged for donations to the association. In general, however, they are exhibited in a real art gallery, something that never fails to makes the young artists very proud: “I saw my work on the last day of the Camp. Seeing it made me realise that I can do anything and be whoever I want,” said one girl.

Parents also get to rediscover life’s little pleasures

In 2009, the children and young people’s programmes were flanked by a third strand: the family programmes. These are designed for cases in which children have very limited independence due to the likes of motor neuron diseases, for instance.  These situations can be very stressful for parents and their gratitude shines out from all their comments: “Dynamo is a place where magic meets reality. Now we know that nothing is impossible!” and “It is a happy island, a Never Never Land which really does exist, thanks to you!”  

The parents also get to rediscover life’s little pleasures: one mother started wearing make-up and looking after herself again, while a couple, who had not had the chance to do so in eight years, decided to simply go for a walk hand-in-hand in nature rather than take part in any organised activities. Another found the strength and faith in life to make the decision to have another child. 

Although in a different way from the youngsters, the parents too repay the facility’s staff with huge human richness: “They thank us, but really we should be thanking them,” explains Nigro. “Because the emotion in their eyes when they look at their children blows us away every time.”

Nigro remembers seeing a little disabled boy being lifted up rather clumsily by his father who was cleaning his wheelchair with a garden hose: “You might instinctively think he was being insensitive but we discovered that he was not the child’s father but his mother’s partner. Yet he was as dedicated to him as if he were his own child. It was a real lesson in life.”