Ella Lee started a pen-pal program between children and seniors. (Contributed photo)

Ella Lee started a pen-pal program between children and seniors. (Contributed photo)

South Surrey teen starts pen-pal program between seniors and children

Ella Lee said program teaches importance of inter-generational connectedness

Knowing that seniors living in retirement homes were likely isolated and perhaps lonely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a South Surrey high school student set out to do something about it.

Amica White Rock contacted Peace Arch News earlier this month to share a new initiative started by Semiahmoo Secondary Grade 11 student Ella Lee.

Lee, in co-ordination with a class at Jessie Lee Elementary, launched a pen-pal program between young kids and elders in Amica.

As part of the trial program, about 30 students will work together to write 20 letters to the seniors, which have yet to be delivered. The plan, Lee said, is that the seniors will write back.

“I thought it would be a way to teach young kids about the importance of inter-generational connection,” Lee told PAN on Sunday.

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

Lee said while seniors are plugged into the virtual world, a sense of connection can be lost through a screen.

“Especially in COVID, there’s a lot of isolation going on and a sense of connectedness is lost,” she said.

Lee said she got the idea after setting out to write a letter to a senior. However, she couldn’t find any programs operating in the Semiahmoo Peninsula.

“I figured, I had the free time, I’ll just make a program,” Lee said.

There’s no real format to the letters, Lee said, adding that she’s leaving it up to the children to write as they wish.

“These are kids and they have great personalities. They can doodle whatever they want, they can talk about themselves or what they did on the weekend. They’re letters, so we want them to be personal. I don’t want to make them too structured.”

Lee said if the program is successful, and if the seniors find value in it, she plans to expand to include more children and more adults.


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