(Romagnano Sesia, 8 February 1919 – Novara, 5 February 1999)
She was an Italian psychiatrist, partisan and politician, one of the most authoritative figures in science and politics of Novara after the Second World War. Among the first medical graduates in Italy, she was a student of the authoritative clinician and pediatrician Piero Fornara and a pioneer in the field of pediatric neuropsychiatry on a psychoanalytic basis.
During the Second World War, together with her cousin Mariolina, she was a partisan relay and then health inspector of the Garibaldi Brigades. During this difficult and dangerous assignment she had to see the files of the partisans killed by the Nazifascists and, among these, also the files of many adolescents and children: in that dramatic circumstance she took with herself the solemn commitment to do everything to “save children”.
After the war she worked at the children’s neuropsychiatry service of the Novara Major Hospital of Charity, which she helped organize. After holding various local administrative posts, in 1963 she became a deputy in the Chamber for the Italian Communist Party, presenting a series of bills dedicated to the mental health and integration of differently gifted children.
In Novara Marcella Balconi restructured in 1982 the “Children’s Park”, a sort of small “city in the city” in which children could feel at home.