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Canadian high school students launch positive message hotline for isolated seniors

Source: Unsplash/AksharDave

Joy 4 All is a youth-run volunteer project in Calgary looking to spread joy during the pandemic with a toll-free hotline offering messages of positivity, jokes, stories, letters, songs and poetry, with the goal of helping those struggling with isolation.

Joy4all hotline launched in Calgary for seniors isolated by lockdown

A group of Calgary high schoolers has launched a free positive message hotline for seniors in self-isolation. The Joy4All project offers a free telephone line, and a friendly voice on the other end, to help lift spirits in what may be a lonely time during the COVID-19 pandemic. The hotline, available by calling (403) 209-4300 or 1-877-JOY-4ALL, offers pre-recorded jokes, stories, motivational passages and poems. It launched Friday 10 April.

The initiative is run by 21 Calgary high school students enrolled in a recreational leadership program called Ever Active Schools. The students created a telephone hotline, 1-877-JOY-4ALL, which offers pre-recorded messages of positivity, including jokes, stories, kind messages, letters, songs and poetry, with the goal of helping those struggling with isolation.
High school students in Calgary are crowdsourcing joy for older people feeling the strain of coronavirus isolation. The initiative is run by 21 Calgary high school students enrolled in a recreational leadership program called Ever Active Schools. The students created a telephone hotline, 1-877-JOY-4ALL, which offers pre-recorded messages of positivity, including jokes, stories, kind messages, letters, songs and poetry, with the goal of helping those struggling with isolation. Source: Unsplash/MalcolmLightbody

Imagine how a joyful message would lift your spirits during this time of coronavirus isolation?

In the Canadian province of Alberta, a group of Calgary Board of Education students in the Ever Active Recreation Leadership program set out to brighten the lives of fellow citizens while everyone is locked down, reported LiveWireCalgary.

The program is called Joy4all. It’s a hotline that provides pre-recorded stories, kind messages and jokes told by students. The website encourages anyone, especially youth, to contribute their own content to the hotline. After student programs closed due to health guidelines, Jamie Anderson, teacher at Ever Active Schools, initially challenged his students to bring joyful messages to seniors in isolation.

“We still wanted to offer a volunteer project, but also recognised that the needs of the community were quickly changing,” Anderson said. “Many folks are experiencing barriers to connection with others, so the students decided to bring messages of joy to phone lines to reach as many people as possible through the voices of youth.”

“Our goal is to keep everyone engaged and happy during these tough times, especially the people who are helping the cause by self-isolating. We thank them for making this sacrifice for us and want to help them get through this time by giving them happiness and a sense of belonging.”
“We are a group of Recreational Leadership students who want to make our community a safer and better place.” “Our goal is to keep everyone engaged and happy during these tough times, especially the people who are helping the cause by self-isolating. We thank them for making this sacrifice for us and want to help them get through this time by giving them happiness and a sense of belonging.” Source: Instagram/joy4allproject

Program to run until June and maybe beyond if needed

Students had started their planning for Joy4All less than a week before launch, Anderson told LiveWireCalgary. Ali Ahmad, 16, one of 21 students behind Joy4All, said the wanted to make a difference during this time.

“Through this project, we will be able to show our appreciation to people that are self-isolating and give them something they can always look forward to in their day. Hopefully, it can lighten the mood and help save lives,” he said.

Joy4All plans to evolve their project with crowdsourcing and changing community needs, said Anderson.

“Our outreach is twofold. We initially wanted to reach out to seniors, and people in old folks’ homes and hospitals, but we also want to bridge with other parts of the community, like families who are at home,” he said.

Currently, the hotline has five recorded messages. Students plan to add more options as the project continues. They’re hoping for more diverse story contributions, too.

“We want to recognise that there is a diverse population. We want to offer messages and stories in people’s familial languages,” said Anderson.

Another student organiser for Joy4All, Jared Quinn, 20, said he can relate those who are dealing with isolated families.

“I’m doing this mainly because of my experiences with isolation, my mental health and my grandparents mental health. They live in a different province and they were supposed to come and visit, and now they can’t,” said Quinn.

The volunteer program has been planned to end in June. Anderson hopes students will continue their project for as long as the public health guidelines are in place.

“Students are interested in carrying out the project beyond the end of their course, but ultimately we haven’t gotten that far quite yet,” he said.

To hear a message from Joy4All, call (403) 209-4300 or 1-877-JOY-4ALLTo submit a message, go to joy4all.ca 

Source: LiveWireCalgary

Make an Impact

WANT TO CONTRIBUTE?

Children and youth can submit their own written messages, content, and even recordings! We encourage kindness, creativity, and diverse messages of joy, especially for our Indigenous elders in isolation as well as seniors who are Newcomers, Immigrants, and Refugees. Click the link and scroll down.