Campbell River’s school students recently sent over 600 hand-drawn letters to local RCMP members, doctors, nurses, paramedics and other front-line workers.
And they’re not stopping there.
The idea was the brainchild of Sandowne Elementary teacher Karen Lutz and colleague Kelsey Creviston at Southgate Middle School. Lutz says she was seeing how the pandemic has been impacting the youth of our community, and knew she needed to do something to help.
“This is really hard on these kids,” she says. “I mean, think about how we’re all struggling emotionally with it as adults, and then just try to picture not having the coping mechanisms we’ve developed and having your whole world turned upside down like these kids have.”
So she called her friend Kelsey and they started bouncing ideas off each other.
“I truly believe that a connected community is a safe community,” Lutz says. “And right now we don’t have that connection. So how do you get people to connect when they’re not allowed to?”
The answer, it turns out, was as simple as taking a few minutes to write a letter, draw a little picture and express your appreciation for someone else’s struggles.
“I was talking to the kids about how these people go from one file to another, one patient to another, and they have no clue what they’re going to do in a day when they’re on the way to work,” Lutz says. “We talked about how when the phone rings, they have to go and maybe don’t get to have Christmas dinner with their families. I asked them if they’d have had to interact with an emergency services person, and all the hands shot up and they started sharing their stories. It was amazing.”
In the end, Lutz and Creviston delivered over 600 letters.
“Its moments like these that are so uplifting and keep us going,” Tweeted the Campbell River Fire Department upon their arrival.
“Honestly,” says RCMP Const. Maury Tyre, “it’s the small things like this that make a big difference to officers on a day-to-day basis. For the most part, police are only dealing with people when something negative is going on and at times that can definitely drag on the soul. Messages from kids and any community member for that matter definitely have the ability to lift the spirits of our officers. So thank you to everyone who took part in this.”
And while Lutz, Creviston and the other teachers of the school district are taking a much-deserved Spring Break right now, they’ll be back continuing their connection-building upon their return to the classroom next week.
“The next one we want to do after Spring Break is to see how many classrooms we can get to paint rocks,” Lutz says. “There’s a great big garden outside the hospital, and how great would it be to fill it with painted rocks done by kids?”
And she’s hoping to get even more than the 600 submissions they got for the first effort.
“I think now that everyone has seen what this can do, we’ll get even more teachers on board for the next one,” she says. “I think it’s possible we get every classroom in the district. I really do.”
But what happens to initiatives like this when everyone has been vaccinated and we’re allowed to connect physically again?
“Well now that we’ve been building connections with the fire hall, and the hospital, and the RCMP, and the ambulance people, once it’s safe, they all want to actually bring the kids in and connect in person,” Lutz says. “We have to make – and keep – these connections between the kids and the community however we can, and now that we’ve started, I’m sure we’ll keep growing it if we work at it a little bit.”
Check out a video on our website (campbellrivermirror.ca) that Lutz put together before delivering all the letters to their recipients if you need a smile today.