Tina Yong, a Grade 12 student at Fleetwood Park Secondary, writes a letter to a senior as part of the “QuaranteensBC” initiative that she and classmate Jasmine Chahal started. (Submitted photo: Tina Yong)

Surrey ‘Quaranteens’ connect teens, seniors with letter-writing project

Students started initiative due to COVID-19 pandemic

Two Fleetwood Park Secondary students are working to connect teens with seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tina Yong, a Grade 12 student, said she was asked to participate in another project, Sparkathon Building Bridges, where teams of teenagers were asked to address the challenge prompt: How can youth stay connected when face-to-face interactions are impossible.

“During that meeting, I started brainstorming with my team and we kind of came up with this idea of connecting teenagers not just with each other, but with people all across different generations,” she said.

That idea turned into writing letters for seniors.

READ ALSO: Surrey long-term care home staff get surprise thank-you gift, April 18, 2020

Tina, along with her classmate Jasmine Chahal, started organizing “QuaranteensBC.”

Since starting in mid-April, Tina said about 50 students from across the Lower Mainland have started writing letters to residents of seniors homes.

So far, Tina said they’ve got six homes on board, but she and Jasmine are still in the process of reaching out to more.

“Usually their response is super positive and the (recreation) directors are super happy to be able to set something up like this,” she said. “They always say it’s really good for the seniors, they really need this because right now they’re in isolation and they don’t have much to look forward to, so letters are a really nice thing to wake up to and see.’”

READ ALSO: Surrey Schools pilots ‘stigma-free toolkit’ amid COVID-19 pandemic, May 2, 2020

As for the teenagers, Tina said they’ve received “so many heartwarming messages” from them.

“I feel like a lot of them are looking for a sense of purpose right now because school’s out, they don’t have as much schoolwork to focus on. A lot of them have been reflecting,” said Tina, adding that she said she’s had some friends reach out to say there’s “not much meaning” in their lives right now.

“So it’s nice to have something that they can work on that makes a difference in the bigger community because a lot of volunteering initiatives are down right now.”

Tina said the group prefers to have handwritten letters that are then scanned and then sent to the homes. But if people don’t have a scanner, she said people can type out the letters, “but we always ask them to use a font that looks like it’s in handwriting.”

Asked how the letter writing is going, Tina said, “It’s kind of funny actually because when we first started, we would send out an email with all the instructions and things like that, but I guess we weren’t being thorough enough because we’d get some email back from volunteers saying, ‘So how do you start a letter? Do I say hello, what’s up?’

“It was kind of funny to see the generational divide and people don’t really communicate through this medium anymore, but I also think it’s really cool how we’re kind of introducing these teenagers, who don’t know too much about previous generations, to some of the means they used to communicate. I think that’s kind of… the bigger purpose of this project.”

If people are interested in taking part in the QuaranteensBC initiative, they can email quaranteensbc@gmail.com or check out their Instagram, @quaranteensbc.

READ ALSO: Surrey students create free online tutoring, mentorship program, April 18, 2020



lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

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