Opera Nazionale Balilla (ONB) was an Italian Fascist youth organization functioning, as an addition to school education, between 1926 and 1937.
The ONB was created through Mussolini's decree of April 3 1926, and was led by Ricci for the following eleven years. It included children between the ages of 8 and 18, grouped as the Balilla and the Avanguardisti. Later, a section named Figli della Lupa ("Children of the She-Wolf", alluding to the myth of Romulus and Remus; ages 6 to 8) was added.
The organization surpassed its purpose as a cultural institution that was intended to serve as the ideological counterpart of school, and served as a paramilitary group (training for future assignments in the Italian Army), as well as education. It carried out indoctrination with a message of Italian-ness and Fascism, training youths as "the fascists of tomorrow".
Male children enrolled wore a uniform adapted from that of the Blackshirts: the eponymous black shirt, the fez of Arditi tradition, grey-green trousers, black fasces emblems, and azure handkerchiefs (i.e.: in the national colour of Italy). During military exercises, they were armed with scaled-down version of Royal Italian Army service rifle, Moschetto Ballila.