Art giving out chances in Guatemala

Young people with any kind of disability or special need is getting a hand by the Guatemala’s Palestra School through art.

Just as it was said by Gloria, one of the promoters of the project, “Painting helps them overcome their limits”.

The project wants to go further, it not only about providing education or training, it is about transforming the way these children are included in society, for this purpose, the child, the family and the society must be involved.

Which is why Palestra has a “parents’ school” where it teaches families how to offer the kind of care these youngsters need: hygienic habits, sports, nutrition.

Regarding this previously said, Ruth Zenteno, one of the coordinator in the project expresses, “Previously the moms would come pick up their kids and hand them a Coca-Cola, completely wasting all the efforts to prevent obesity taught during the morning”.

Today, in the small family that makes up Palestra, a scant half-dozen teachers and 20 students, the kids with special needs are taught the importance of “preventing obesity.”

The young teacher Alex Archila was the one who invented a “balanced diet” with a minimum of six glasses of water a day, and a program of physical activities aimed at “improving the motor skills” of the young.

The result was immediate: the students lost weight and showed greater skill at physical activities.
In these order, they have discovered they can do other things like cooking, equine therapy, gymnastics and painting, instead of hurting themselves with non-healthy habits.

“It’s their favorite class,” Gloria says.

Materials are given and they can explore their creativity, no matter wich technique, which color or intention.

For that reason, twice a week the round table in front of the small kitchen becomes an improvised studio where colors are mixed on palettes and small bits or artwork begin to appear.

From simple drawings to more elaborate scenes like landscapes, moons, beaches and horses, the scenes overflow with imagination.

Around 30 of these creations make up the “United by Art through our Hands” exhibition, promoted by Clarissa Herrera Tejera, another collaborator at Palestra thanks to her program of equine therapy.

If allowed to explore, whether with horses or painting, the kids end up finding themselves and discovering that “yes they can create,” Clarissa said. When they do, the evidence of their special talent is there for all to see.

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