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Students in Canada create hotline with messages of positivity to help seniors isolated by the coronavirus crisis

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 4/21/2020 Muri Assunção

Old retro red telephone on table with vintage green pastel background Old retro red telephone on table with vintage green pastel background A group of high school students in Calgary, Canada, are helping seniors experiencing social isolation during the coronavirus crisis by giving them “a little joy” through a good, old-fashioned phone call.

The Joy4All Project, which launched April 10, is offering a toll-free number with a series of prerecorded messages of positivity designed to lift up the spirits of some of the most vulnerable populations in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Senior citizens who wish to participate simply have to dial 1-877-JOY-4-ALL and choose from a number of options to listen to stories, motivational messages, poems, and even jokes.

The project is run by members of the Ever Active Schools, an enrichment program for the Calvary Board of Education students.

"A lot of folks who are in isolation are really missing their families right now," Jamie Anderson, a teacher connected to the project, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

"So we're just trying to fill in some of the gaps and bring them a little bit of joy and levity during these difficult times."

The students participating in the joy-sharing initiative decided to use “old school technology” to make access easier to the elderly.

"With the recognition that not everyone has access to smart devices and the internet, or the necessary technical skills, they chose the phone to bridge that gap with the seniors," Katie Mahon, the project coordinator told CNN.

The approach seems to have worked.

In its first week the project received 2,300 calls and 5,500 visitors to the project's website.

Jared Quinn, one of the students working in the project said that by helping the elderly, he also has a lot to gain.

“Lots of people butt heads all the time, especially [over[ generational things, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be that respect and that you can’t show love to people who may not be in your own generation,” he told CBC. “I think we can learn a lot of respect for each other and a lot of wisdom from our elders in the community.”

Children and youth who are not connected to Joy4All can also submit their own messages, written or recorded.

“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,” a statement on its website reads.

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