Make a Senior Smile and Write a Letter with Annie’s Project

By Joanne Sallay

Posted in Featured, Online Tutoring, Parent Education Resources, Tips & Advice

Our team is a big fan of teachable moments, silver linings and good news stories. That is why we were thrilled to learn about 6-year-old Annie’s project from Toronto to bring cheer and happiness to seniors living in isolation in long-term care homes. If you are looking for an art or writing activity to keep your child engaged that teaches important values at the same time, read on!

Do you remember the last time you wrote a handwritten letter, or your child sent a homemade card? In this age of technology, e-mail and e-cards have become the standard over traditional pen and paper. As both a parent and president of Teachers on Call, I am a big believer in teaching children to write in addition to all the amazing technology available. It’s still an essential skill for kids to learn with respect to cognitive development, fine motor and writing skills.

National Handwriting Day is a hidden secret and takes place annually on the 23rd of January, meant to encourage the practice of handwriting. With this in mind, we learned of a cool grassroots initiative taking place that provides the perfect opportunity for students of all ages to experience the joy of becoming a pen pal of sorts. It does not matter the age of your child, or if their preference is print, cursive or simply colouring. All you need is a pencil and paper (or a set of crayons or markers) to get started.

When new restrictions in Ontario were added at the end of December to long-term care residences putting a pause on social visits from general visitors, 6-year-old Annie came up with a novel idea. Let’s draw them a picture and write them a nice message to cheer them up.  She started on her own with the help of her friends. Then with the support of her entrepreneurial dad, Eric Brass, and a call to action to his network over 100 messages have been dropped off to date at Baycrest with everything from good wishes for a happy new year to sharing favourite food, colours, or simply a special message.  

This resonated with me personally on many levels. When I was a child, my grandfather and I were pen pals since we lived in different provinces. He used to write me beautiful letters (in cursive script) that I still have to this very day. This is something I want my own children to experience as well as others. When I was a teenager, I volunteered with the elderly at Baycrest and experienced the joy firsthand from seniors when someone (even a stranger) shows they care.

Let’s help Annie reach and exceed her goal of 500 pictures and messages for those living in long-term care facilities and let them know we’re thinking of them. It doesn’t matter where in Ontario (or the world) you are or how old your kids are (adults welcome as well). Your contribution will brighten and bring happiness to a senior’s day.

Cards and letters can be sent to the Teachers on Call office and we will get them over to Annie to distribute on your behalf, or emailed directly to her project. Every single card will go to a resident in a long-term care facility and will be sure to bring many smiles to those feeling lonely. Happy Writing!

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