Regina pen pal program connects kids with care home residents amid COVID-19 pandemic

Nine-year-old Noah Rosbrook doesn’t have a lot in common with a 101-year-old, but that doesn’t stop him from calling her his friend.

It’s a friendship that started with a single letter.

“I think it’s pretty neat, Rosbrook said.

“I learned she likes sports just like me.”

Rosbrook is one of dozens of kids making new friends with people more than 10 times his age through a pandemic pen pal program by Qu’Appelle House Special Care Home in Regina.

READ MORE: B.C. woman finally meets her Australian pen pal after nearly 60 years of friendship

“Sometimes your friends that you have you can’t really talk to, and if you make new friends, you can talk to them,” Rosbrook said.

Jillyan Clark, the recreation coordinator at Qu’Appelle House, started the pen pal program to help residents stay connected with the outside world while the pandemic keeps visitors away.

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Noah Rosbrook’s first letter that he wrote to his 101-year-old pen pal.
Noah Rosbrook’s first letter that he wrote to his 101-year-old pen pal.Courtesy: Jillyan Clark

“It’s a way that we can continue to communicate with people  in the community and stay connected and they can do the same because I think everyone is going through something similar right now,” Clark said.

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Clark invited kids to mail letters to the home. The response was overwhelming.

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“It’s been larger than I ever could have imagined.”

She’s received 80 letters, 50 pieces of artwork, poems and jokes from all over Canada since the end of March.

“It’s been amazing just the connections they’ve been able to form,” Clark said.

“[The residents] couldn’t believe it when they got their first well written letter.”

“We have residents that are over 100 years old and they’ve been through the World Wars, they’ve been through other pandemics and flus like this, so they’ve been offering a lot of helpful words of wisdom for the children.”

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Zero active cases of COVID-19 in Regina
Zero active cases of COVID-19 in Regina

It’s turned out to be a learning experience for the residents and the kids.

“She had one horse that she rode to school every day,” Rosbrook said about his pen pal.

One of the poems mailed through the Qu’Appelle House pen pal program.
One of the poems mailed through the Qu’Appelle House pen pal program.Courtesy: Jillyan Clark

“I never knew that people could ride horses to school at that point.”

Rosbrook is eager to continue learning. He said he’s already started planning his next letter.

“I’m going to include that it’s crazy that she’s 101 years old and that I wish I could have a horse,” Rosbrook said.

The program has spread to three other care homes: Eden Care Homes, Santa Maria Seniors Home and Cupar and District Nursing Home.

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