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The free telephone line, 1-877-JOY-4ALL, offers a friendly voice on the other line, as well as clear recordings of stories, jokes, kind messages, letters, poetry, and music. Their goal is to keep everyone engaged and happy during these tough times.
“During these challenging times and ongoing public health measures, we know that it is especially difficult for seniors and folks experiencing isolation,” its website said.
The Joy4All project is run by a group of recreational leadership students in Calgary “who want to make our community a safer and better place.”
One of those students, Jared Quinn says he believes the program can eliminate generational gaps and allow students and seniors to learn more about each other — no matter the age difference.
“Lots of people butt heads all the time, especially 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,” Quinn said, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). “I think we can learn a lot of respect for each other and a lot of wisdom from our elders in the community.”
Another student, Ali Ahmad, 16, hopes to spread some joy to seniors during this difficult 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, according to LiveWireCalgary.
The elderly and those with underlying health conditions are considered to be at the highest risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness. Many are stuck at home unable to be in close physical contact with their loved ones due to those risks.
In the U.S., the fatality rate from COVID-19 was between 10 to 27 percent for people 85 and over, followed by 3 to 11 percent among people aged 65 to 84 years old, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study released last month.
Students plan to add more content as the project grows, as well as more stories to share with seniors. They are currently requesting submissions on their website.
“A lot of folks who are in isolation are really missing their families right now,” teacher Jamie Anderson told the CBC. “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.”