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'The well-being of the elderly' through art and photography

In 2019, the Accademia Dimitri, in collaboration with the Department of Business Administration Health and Social Affairs-DEASS (social and health areas) of SUPSI, launched the 'Teatro Benessere Anziani' project. Coordinated by Demis Quadri and Veronica Provenzale, the initiative aimed to develop theatrical and artistic practices to promote psychic health, physical well-being and socio-cultural participation in the elderly.

The first objective of the programme was to use theatre as a tool to support the autonomy and wellbeing of the elderly, while conveying a more appreciative and dynamic image of this segment of the population. Theatre, as a living art form, offers the opportunity to express and listen, create social bonds, explore different and shared perspectives, and generate joy and fun.

Thanks to the active involvement of participants and partners, four pilot theatre workshops were organised at the integrated day centres in the Tertianum facilities in Bellinzona and Tenero, at the Centro Sociale Onsernonese in Russo, and at the San Donato Regional Senior Home in Intragna. Despite the obstacles caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the workshops, led initially by Daniele Bianco and subsequently by Anna Kiskanç and Camilla Stanga in 2022, demonstrated clear positive effects, generating involvement and joy among the participants.

In recognition of the results achieved, the project received support from the cantonal action programme Health Promotion Switzerland and the Oertli Foundation, and was also sponsored by various local institutions, such as the Health Promotion and Evaluation Service (SPVS), the cantonal office for the elderly and home care, Pro Senectute and the municipalities involved.

Photo exhibition: an artistic expression of the project

Parallel to the theatre workshops, in collaboration with photographer Reza Khatir, the Accademia Dimitri developed a photographic project to capture and enhance the experience. The images recount the sharing of exercises, creative and playful moments, highlighting the personality and strength of each participant, beyond the stereotypes associated with seniority.

The portraits and scenes captured during the workshops were displayed in four photographic exhibitions, curated by Veronica Provenzale and Reza Khatir, set up in the workshop venues. These exhibitions not only testify to the meeting and sharing that took place during the workshops, but also aspire to promote a more authentic and profound image of older people, thus contributing to a cultural change in the perception of this part of society.

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