Peter Skene Ogden Secondary students Melody Watkins and Sarah Carter are spreading Christmas cheer to seniors this winter with their PSO Christmas Cards for Seniors campaign.
From Dec. 9-11, PSO students had the opportunity to write cards for seniors at Mill Site Lodge, Fischer Place, E-Wing, or D-Wing. Many wrote Christmas messages expressing their support for the seniors in the community during this difficult time. The girls wanted to emphasize how “it’s important to spread the cheer this season and really keep youth connected with the seniors in their community.”
“We are trying to get more communication between people in the community and seniors in the community because seniors feel very isolated up here, especially now,” Carter said.
As part of their Capstone Project, the two Grade 12 girls had originally set up penpal groups with students in the school and the senior homes in the community but wanted to expand on that idea. With the help of teachers, they created the idea for students to write Christmas cards as there are “a lot of people whose families don’t visit them, and we wanted to do something special for them this holiday season.”
The girls were inspired to create Christmas Cards for Seniors because it “lets them know they’re not alone,” and they can “make sure they know they have people that care about them and really want to make an impact.” COVID-19 has greatly affected seniors’ mental health as they don’t get to interact with people such as friends and family members as much, Carter added.
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“I personally know a senior lady whose family doesn’t really talk to her anymore, and I’ve seen the impact it’s had on her and her mental health,” she said.
Writing Christmas cards also gave students an opportunity to contribute to their team in the cohort cup, a competition between grades that involves participation in sports and other school activities in order for students to gain points for their cohorts. Students are divided by grade and gained a point for every card they wrote. Watkins and Carter collected close to 150 cards from PSO students and teachers and ran out of cards before the end of the third day. Many students were happy to share positive Christmas messages and joy before the holidays.
The Christmas cards will be sent to the care homes in time for Christmas.
With many concerts and events that usually take place at care homes during the holidays cancelled this year due to the coronavirus, Watkins and Carter will also be taking part in a recording the PSO senior band is creating this week. The recording, which features various Christmas songs, will be sent to care homes in the community. Residents of the care homes “really miss music performances,” Carter said.
The girls said they plan to continue working with the seniors in the community to ensure they have a great holiday and new year.