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Let your hands do the talking

Written by The Language Project team

We often don’t realise it, but we think with our hands as much as with our brains. The movements we make with our hands constitute a kind of back-channel way of expressing ourselves and help us work out our thoughts. Using our hands in a creative setting, can help you relieve stress and anxiety. The creative hand focuses on the process rather than the result, so making something even imperfectly can be empowering, as it is indeed an expression of the self. 

In July, The Language Project team set off  to Amsterdam and Verona to meet with the 12 brave women, beneficiaries of the project CRISALIS for the second time.  Our team grew bigger as Evaggelia Pelentridou from Peripatos joined us this time and  we couldn’t wait to get hands-on creative! 

In both cities, we received a warm welcome by MakersUnite and Progetto Quid teams We were very excited to see the beneficiaries again and to discover that they were looking forward  to find out in what ways we would explore our creativity this time. 

Our creative journey, started with guided imagery, a mindfulness technique that encourages you to use all your senses – vision, taste, sound, smell and touch to build images in the mind while listening to a narration. We closed our eyes, and our minds wandered away to our own safe and calming places, like clouds getting carried away by the wind. The participants were encouraged to discuss and sketch their visualizations with their partners, and then illustrate them collaboratively. The objective of this activity was to observe their feelings, ideas and thoughts in comparison to, or as a continuity to others, as well as to experience the joy and satisfaction of co-creation in a large scale artwork. The artwork on the canvases was later exhibited in public spaces aiming to stimulate their self-confidence.

We have all stumbled upon a painted rock, somewhere at one point in our lives. Finding this random artwork form, brings a smile to everyone’s face and that was the goal of the next activity. The participants were asked to paint or write inspirational messages on rocks, and it was such a fun and relaxing moment in our workshop. Each one of them was encouraged to paint two rocks, one to keep for herself and one to leave somewhere in the city, as a random act of kindness and empowerment towards others.

The result was colourful and full of empowering messages. On the next morning,  the beneficiaries were asked to stroll around the city in pairs and leave their rocks wherever they wanted. The twist of this activity was that one of the participants was blindfolded each time, and their partner had to guide them safely. Although, this trust-building exercise can be very stressful, it helps the participants build stronger connections. In the end, everybody returned feeling enriched by this experience and we hope that our painted rocks have already made some people smile in both Amsterdam and Verona,

On the second day of the workshop, we got hands-on creative, decorating canvas bags and creating our own jewelry with macrame techniques. The women had already expressed their interest in crafts, since the first workshop and as we expected some of their incredible talents and skills were revealed during these activities. We were impressed by the creativity,  dedication and collaboration exhibited during these activities and the outcome was truly inspiring.

In the end, we invited the Makersunite team in Amsterdam and the Progetto Quid team in Verona to enjoy our on-the-spot arts and crafts exhibition and play the Marshmallow Challenge -a fun team building activity that encourages innovative thinking through collaboration. Admittedly, it was the perfect ending to a very creative and joyful day. 

During the second session of the Multimodal Creative Expression Workshops, we explored the power of collaboration, encouraging the participants to work with a different partner in every activity. This way, they had the chance to  get to know each other better, have the courage to ask for help and at the same time build their confidence while helping others. The sessions aimed at transforming words and thoughts into handmade art items and thus empowering the beneficiaries to become more self-assertive and  creative in their lives through movement, positive reflection and arts & crafts.

We said farewell to the women of CRISALIS  for the second time and we left them feeling inspired, optimistic and empowered by their inner strength. In October, we will visit them again for the third session of the Creative Expression Workshops, and we are looking forward to experiencing once again the magic that happens when women come together to support each other in a creative setting.

Photographs: Solomon and Sylvia Kouveli Photography

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