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Domtar encourages letter-writing through PaperPal project


February 10, 2016
By Cindy Macdonald
Handwriting is valuable for people of all ages

Domtar Corp. recently unveiled a new program called PaperPal, noting that some researchers and doctors recommend the benefits of handwriting for both children and senior citizens.

The effort is intended to connect generations through letter-writing. It will help youths develop fine motor skills, spur seniors to practice a useful cognitive exercise and give both groups a way to develop enjoyable and enriching connections, says Domtar.

Domtar tested the program in 2015 with a school and retirement community in Van Nuys, Calif. The idea, chronicled in a short video, was so successful that the groups wanted to continue writing letters even after the initial two-month program officially ended.

“Research about the benefits of handwriting shows why this program can be useful,” said Paige Goff, Domtar’s vice-president of sustainability and business communications. “But besides the educational and cognitive benefits, Domtar is excited about how it will spark smiles and hugs for both children and senior citizens. You see that in the video, and we can’t wait to see it at the new places where PaperPal will debut.”

PaperPal will now expand to Wisconsin locations near a Domtar mill: Rothschild Elementary School, senior apartment community Birchwood Highlands and assisted living facility Stoney River. The program is also available to other facilities. To learn more about PaperPal or to receive a starter kit, please visit www.paperbecause.com/handwriting.

“Handwriting remains valuable for all ages, and it’s especially useful when it connects senior citizens and students,” Goff said. “We’re excited that more schools and senior centers are joining PaperPal, because we know the results will be so positive.”

Goff notes that handwriting can be a useful cognitive exercise for baby boomers trying to keep their minds sharp as they grow older, according to a neuroscientist at Duke University.

Also, children in grades two, four and six wrote more words, faster, and expressed more ideas when writing essays by hand instead of with a keyboard, according to a study by a University of Washington professor of educational psychology.