Students, seniors share life moment through art

Anthony Abbondanza
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Ten senior students of a Pierrefonds high school used a rather unusual, yet spectacular method in paying homage to seniors of a Montreal Jewish residence earlier this month.

The students of Hanna Engel’s and Sylvie Allard’s Pierrefonds Comprehensive High School art classes presented painted canvas during an evening vernissage, singling out a special moment in the lives of 10 seniors of Jewish Eldercare Centre – after they became friends over the course of a yearlong project.

 “At first, they were shy. Then they began to own the situation and become very comfortable with the seniors. They understood what to ask, what to talk about,” said Engel.

In its second year, the art project received overwhelming support from the student body of PCHS. In fact, Engel said students were signing up to the point she “had to cut it down because it was overwhelming.”

The students, said Engel, would visit, or welcome, and email the seniors regularly to learn their partnered senior’s life story.

Hours of reflection were then creatively painted, using water and oil colours, on a large canvas depicting a truly special moment which defined 10 seniors’ lives.

“Some of the students are not even art students but they chose to do it. We helped them understand the art and they came out with beautiful art work that they’re proud of,” added Engel.

The majority of seniors at the Jewish Eldercare Centre suffer from Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, heart disease, stroke, Parkinson’s, diabetes, Multiple Sclerosis and other diseases.

The centre is the second largest public Jewish long-term care facility in Quebec.

Organizations: Pierrefonds Comprehensive High School, Jewish Eldercare Centre

Geographic location: Pierrefonds, Montreal, Quebec

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