WELLINGTON COUNTY – Wellington County’s annual Here4Hope event is going to look a little different this year.
The project, aimed at promoting life and preventing suicide, annually includes an autumn event to provide updates and a learning opportunity for local residents.
This year, due to COVID-19, the Here4Hope committee is asking residents to participate from home in the Messages4Hope campaign.
It encourages community members to send postcards – real or virtual – to people in their lives between Oct. 19 and 28.
“We were looking at another way to … engage the community in something that could be positive,” said suicide prevention project lead Cecilia Marie Roberts.
“And certainly something that has to do with connection and a sense of togetherness now is important given the pandemic.”
She added, “And it aligns with the work that we do because feeling connected, having a sense of belonging to others, and feeling like you have a place in the world can be quite protective against suicide.”
Messages4Hope postcards will be distributed in the Oct. 22 issue of the Wellington Advertiser and more will be available at Wellington County libraries.
“We tried to do our very best to kind of balance things that people could do actually in person, like write a postcard, colour the insert … but also have the digital component of it to be able to send it online,” Roberts said.
The campaign targets all demographics.
Elementary schools throughout Wellington County have “Thank you” postcards for students to complete next week.
Following COVID-19 protocols, postcards will be distributed to classes, students will complete them and return them to the Messages4Hope committee.
“Their exercise is about gratitude and they’re writing messages of thanks to health care workers, first responders, retail (and vulnerable individuals),” Roberts said.
Once the postcards are collected, an inventory will be completed and the postcards will be distributed to essential workers and vulnerable individuals throughout the community.
High school students will receive mindfulness postcards to colour and teachers will run an exercise upon distribution.
“Basically it’s having a conversation about a sense of belonging, like when they felt they belonged and how that felt to them and what that meant to them,” Roberts said.
The students will have the option to colour the front of their postcard.
“We’re really hoping to get some pictures of those and we’ll make sure there’s a little draw for any of those coloured postcards that get shared (on social media),” Roberts said.
“Like share your postcard with us for a chance to win.”
Also, throughout the Messages4Hope campaign, hopeful video messages from residents at the Wellington Terrace Long-Term Care Home in Aboyne will be shared at www.messages4hope.ca.
Anyone who want to send more than one physical postcard, or didn’t receive one, can always send their own postcard or letter to family or friends.
Messages4Hope has a goal to exceed 10,000 messages over the 10-day period.
“In the end, the community can see that this was an overwhelming success,” Roberts said.
“So the community can feel good about itself.”
To help, anyone sending a physical postcard is encouraged to take a selfie and post it to social media with the hashtag #messages4hope.
That way the committee can more easily track messages.
Another option for anyone who wants to send multiple messages is to go digital. The website will have the option to share or send electronic postcards.
For more information visit www.messages4hope.ca anytime after Oct. 19.
Messages4Hope is the brainchild of committee members from the following groups:
- Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington;
- Wellington County;
- Wellington Catholic District School Board;
- Upper Grand District School Board;
- Wellington County OPP;
- Family Services Guelph/Wellington;
- Get In Touch for Hutch;
- Suicide Awareness Council Wellington Dufferin;
- Centre Wellington Township,
- Wellington Guelph Drug Strategy; and
- Fergus Educational Services.