A bit of history
One day at the painting lessons, we started doing some random exercises with the left hand, because one of the ladies had her right arm broken. So that she didn’t stop attending the lessons, I told her: Don’t worry, we’ll do it with the other hand.
Likewise, I had known a left-handed little girl whom I wanted to teach to draw but I didn’t know how to do it with my left hand. At the same period, my older son Thiago, who was 6 years old then, had some homework to do and I sat by him with pencil and paper in case I had to explain him any subject. That way I started drawing lines and whatever that came to my mind with the left hand, trying to see if it was useful for anything.
The truth is that some interesting things came out. Things that kept catching and surprising me in a very simple way. And I felt it would be a great idea to bring the experience to my students in the painting lessons, at the Day-Care Center for the Elderly, in Puerto del Rosario. Initially, we used to do exercises for 10 or 15 minutes and then we went on painting. That way, we started doing some work sheets and then others.
And the development led me to ask a friend, David de León, who works as a physiotherapist at Tibiabín Physiotherapy Center, in Puerto del Rosario. He explained that, doing these exercises with the left hand, we were working out the right side of the students’ brain. And he encouraged me to tell a friend of his, who is a neurologist, about what we had been doing. So I did.
Agustín Castañeyra, who is now the Dean of the Medicine School of the University of La Laguna, told me that it would be very beneficial for old adults to develop the right side of the brain. Moreover, he offered himself to guide us through the development of the activities.
Then, we convinced the center where I was giving the painting lessons that something good was happening. Something that deserved time, study and research, due to its benefits. And in 2014, we were assigned a schedule and a classroom, where we started the itrazos project.
For 4 years, we made different activities with groups of 15 to 20 people, most of them formed by women aged between 65 and 94 years old. These activities helped develop the right side of their brain. At this time, six participants achieved to do the 200 exercises proposed in the project.
In the itrazos project, most activities are carried out on paper, but sometimes we include elements of other techniques to add color, shape or texture. The exercises are done individually. However, sometimes we do them in pairs, on the same sheet of paper, or we do the same exercise in groups to change and enrich the experience.
To all them:
What we have found out is so big that we can only leave a hint here, because we are still on the way, guided by professionals that watch our steps.
Thanks to all them! At every step or arising question, we find someone that encourages us and help us solve it.
Because we have been accompanied in many situations. But as the project is new, finding open doors has not always been easy.
However, all supports received encourage us to continue, from question to question, keeping on asking ourselves.
“Doing some very simple exercises with pencil and paper, stimulating the non-dominant hand, we wake up what is dormant, activating and developing our hemispheres, expanding the communication channels between them, getting improvements for our daily life and the life of those near us.”