During the PIMDI week in Helsinki, my group talked a lot about having a workshop as equals with the participants in the elderly home. We didn’t want to treat the residents as people that should be happy to receive something from us, but rather we wanted all of us to blend in and participate. Through the shared experience, we could both learn from each other. 

Our idea was to make a drawing together. The first step was to make yourself present by tracing your hand. The second step was to draw the hand or other body parts of your neighbor to make contact. The third step was to give your neighbor or someone else a present by drawing something for that person. The last step was to make connections between all of the participants. Even though we had some challenges – only one of the initiators in our group spoke Finnish and it physically, it was more challenging than we expected – was a really nice warm experience.  

At home in Amsterdam.

I mainly work with children so after the experience in Helsinki I was really curious to see how the workshop would work for them. So, I brought big sheets of paper, colors and tape to one of the primary schools where I teach and started the workshop with the young kids. First, I asked the kids how we could make one big sheet together. After that we started drawing in the same order and steps as I had done with the elderly. These kids didn’t have any barrier physically and there was a lot of fun by drawing each other’s body parts by standing and lying down on the table with the paper sheets. We rotated a lot and drew different things on each other’s body parts. When we finished the workshop, I asked the kids how they experienced the workshop. What did they like and what not? The kids were unanimously agreeing that making it together was what made it so much fun. I thought that was great! During the workshop, I wasn’t a teacher where the kids thought I would evaluate them. I was a participant having fun just they did. I think this helped the kids to work more freely and to have fun without thinking about a result. 

Text and photo Marit Jongsma