Brighter Day, a youth-led initiative based out of Volunteer Campbell River, is looking to connect seniors and youth with a new pen pal program to help make everyone more connected during this socially-distanced time. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

Brighter Day, a youth-led initiative based out of Volunteer Campbell River, is looking to connect seniors and youth with a new pen pal program to help make everyone more connected during this socially-distanced time. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

New pen-pal program looks to connect seniors and youth in Campbell River

Hope is to ‘make both parties feel less isolated through these challenging times’

The pandemic has changed the way everyone connects and socializes, forcing us all to be creative and innovative.

One example of this is a new pen-pal initiative that looks to bring our community’s youth and seniors closer together.

The program is called Brighter Buddies, and it’s being organized and led by Brighter Day – a project by YouthCan at Volunteer Campbell River.

“Brighter Buddies is a pen-pal style program between volunteers and senior residents we hope that will make both parties feel less isolated through these challenging times and give them both a chance to learn from each other,” says Volunteer Campbell River’s Youth Engagement Coordinator Shelby Ordano. “As we know this year has been an adjustment for all of us, but seniors right now, especially, are a bit vulnerable. They don’t have the same opportunities to get out and connect and have a social circle, and this is one way we can improve that for them.”

The pen pal program is one of many initiatives being taken on by Brighter Day.

This past summer the project collected over 1000 books to deliver to isolated seniors, as well as partnered with the global technology support organization Cyber-Seniors to help local seniors become comfortable using new technology.

Brighter Day is a new youth-led project out of Volunteer Campbell River that brings youth (15-29) and seniors (55+) together, building connections and relationships through shared activities, experiences, hobbies, and events.

It began thanks to a grant from the Campbell River Community Foundation and RBC Youth Launch, and it’s the program’s hope that youth and seniors will build a sense of belonging and decrease stigma and stereotypes of both demographics.

One of those stereotypes, Ordano says, is that today’s youth don’t care enough to get involved in volunteerism. Or that they’re too self-absorbed to make time for people they don’t know. The Brighter Buddies program is certainly disproving that idea.

“It’s actually been crazy to see the number of youth who want to get involved and engage,” Ordano says. “We actually have more youth involved than we have seniors for them to write letters to, which might be surprising to some people. We have 10 youth currently writing letters – plus a number of classes who have expressed interest in being a part of it – and only four or five seniors who have signed up to receive them.”

There aren’t any specific kinds of people they’re looking to get involved or specific topics they’re looking to have people discuss, so anyone can take part, Ordano says. In fact, the more diverse the conversations the better, she says.

“We have one youth that’s a mom of two kids and another that is a substitute teacher,” Ordano says. “We have one that’s younger who just moved here from Nepal a couple years ago. We go through the letters and try to match them to seniors we feel would be a good fit to receive them, but we have so many youth from so many different backgrounds and we really embrace that. Our hope is that we can just facilitate the initial connection and then they develop their own relationship and go forward from there.”

If you know anyone interested in becoming a pen pal in the program – especially if it’s you – please contact Ordano by email at youth@volunteercr.ca



miked@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Search and rescue crews from all over Vancouver Island responded to calls to assist with the search for a 19 year-old man with medical issues who got lost on trails in the south end of Duncan on Nov. 21. The man was found Sunday morning and taken to hospital for assessment. (Submitted photo)
Duncan man rescued after getting lost on local trails

19-year-old taken to hospital for assessment

New estimated figures from Elections BC peg the number of registered voters in 2020 at 54.4 per cent. (Black Press Media File)
2020 provincial election sets historical low turnout

Just over 1.9 million registered voters cast ballots in 2020

Firefighters try to put out a structure fire on the Island Highway in Nanoose Bay early Saturday morning. (Nanoose Bay Volunteer Fire Department photo)
Horses in nearby stable saved as building burns down in Nanoose Bay

Firefighters called out in the early-morning hours Saturday

A sign outside Ucluelet’s Blue Room on Monday morning advises patrons that the restaurant has gone back to take-out only. (Andrew Bailey photo)
Some Ucluelet restaurants heading back to take-out only as COVID-19 concerns rise

Ucluelet mayor Mayco Noel urges residents to be respectul of business owners’ decisions.

A sign at the entrance to Ty-Histanis asks visitors to stay out of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Andrew Bailey photo)
Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation announces lockdown after member tests positive for COVID-19

Essential travel only and restricted to Tofino and Ucluelet.

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

Cumberland resident Lorna Clark says she's going to treat herself to a roast beef dinner with all the trimmings, after winning $50,000 on a Bingo Blast scratch ticket. Photo supplied
Cumberland lottery winner says first purchase will be a roast beef dinner

Meanwhile, Victoria woman set to share her $100,000 Season’s Greetings lottery win

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

Capital Regional District Animal Control say an eight-month-old Rottweiler bit a Langford mother and her child near Glen Lake on Nov. 19. (Black Press Media file photo)
Large dog menaces mother and child in Langford

Mother puts three-year-old on top of car to protect him when friendly encounter turns scary

The Victoria Police Department headquarters. (Black Press Media file photo)
Investigation launched into man’s death after arrest in Victoria

IIO investigation to determine if police actions or inaction played a role in the man’s death

(Village of Sayward)
Sayward elects new mayor and two council members

New mayor-elect Mark Baker to end 2020’s revolving door in North Island village

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

The first phase of the Vancouver Island Motorsport Circuit when it was under construction. The Municipality of North Cowichan denied the VIMC a development permit for phase two of the project. That decision was quashed by the courts. (File photo)
North Cowichan to appeal court’s decision to quash Motorsport expansion denial

Municipality has until Dec. 6 to file appeal to recent court ruling

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Most Read