Thousands of Children Learn How to Protect their Brain Health with Puppets

Agustín Ibáñez, Atlantic Fellow and GBHI faculty member, and Alejandra Davidziuk explore the enchanting 'Universe of Brains' puppet show which is weaving the magic of arts and the brain together, igniting the imaginations of thousands of children to foster a lifelong journey of brain health and wellbeing.

Universo de Cerebros puppets and team

Universo de Cerebros creative, neuroscience and pilot project team members during rehearsals.

Pioneering Latin American Brain Health Course  

In 2022, The Latin American Brain Health Institute (BrainLat), collaborating with the Ministry of Education of Argentina and the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI), received support from the Inter-American Development Bank to unveil the first Latin American course on brain health. This pioneering transdisciplinary course, which included an arts and health component mastered by Atlantic Fellow Dominic Campbell, was tailored for a range of health professionals. Our project involved contributions from over 25 global teachers, all expertly coordinated by the BrainLat team. Together with Mayte Vergara, we had the privilege of leading a group of these dedicated professionals to apply and embody the knowledge we gained during the course. The impact was widespread—from integrating brain health in sports like football, rugby, and hockey to crafting a curriculum for the remote communities in Tierra del Fuego's far south. However, one project stood out for its commitment, impact, and creativity.

Universe of Brains—Educating through Arts

An initiative called Universo de Cerebros was created in San Juan, Argentina by local artists David Gardiol and Edita Sigalat, alongside brain health experts—Luciana Vita, Laura Noguera, and Mariana Zanino—who completed the course. The inspiration for their unique puppet show came from Atlantic Fellow Eléonore Bayen’s "My Brain Robbie"—an educational video series which introduces brain health concepts to children through Robbie who personifies a brain and uses engaging narratives to share daily practices for maintaining brain health.

The puppet show is a transdisciplinary adventure, orchestrating arts, health, prevention, and neuroscience into digestible and engaging lessons for children, fostering empathy with the characters and encouraging life-long healthy behaviors. 

Thanks to the support of the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation, the show has recently come to life. Developed through a rigorous process involving Jorge Moreno's design and scenography and Luz María Ramírez Pérez's costume design, characters such as Doctor Cerebrón, Professor Cerebrosky, and their friend Romualdo were born. They utilize a novel glove puppet technique for enhanced expressiveness. The show moves across multiple regions and includes dynamic activities and dancing to the rhythm of songs promoting brain health. 

David Gardio Universo de Cerebros
Children outside Universo de Cerebros

Left: David Gardion in character as 'Doctor Cerebrón' with puppet 'Robbie' | Right: children in Calingasta where the puppet show and brain health awareness talks were held.

Following its launch in rural schools in San Juan the program has been introduced in the economically challenged area of Calingasta near the Andes Mountains. It has already reached over 2,000 children from 17 schools, teaching them about brain health through play. The team will continue to expand these free presentations across multiple schools, especially in vulnerable regions. Additionally, they provide each school with educational materials on positive brain health habits so that the concepts can be integrated across their curricula.

This adventure harnesses knowledge beyond academic silos and integrates it with other disciplines, especially the arts, to create a substantial impact—changing the lives of our youngest generations. We hope that Universo de Cerebros will continue to grow from San Juan to the world, reshaping how we teach and value brain health from an early age.

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