Canadian Teens Launch Hotline To Lift Isolated Seniors’ Spirits With Jokes, Stories, And More

joy 4 all

A team of Canadian high school students aim to keep lonely adults company with a hotline they created that plays pre-recorded jokes and stories meant to inspire positivity and hope.

The project is called Joy4All and was launched on April 10 by students from the Ever Active Schools recreational leadership program run by the Calgary Board of Education.

Restrictions brought on by social distancing are especially hard on seniors, most of whom are required to fully isolate due to their heightened vulnerability to the virus.

12th grader Jared Quinn, who is involved with the project, commented on the importance of young people supporting their communities and elders in particular.

”Lots of people butt heads all the time, especially generational things, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be that respect and that you can’t show love to people who may not be in your own generation,” Quinn said.

“I think we can learn a lot of respect for each other and a lot of wisdom from our elders in the community.”

Although the free hotline is intended to offer a sense of connection to seniors quarantined across North America, people of all ages can boost their mood with Joy4All’s regularly updated rotation of jokes, stories, guided meditations, and educational content.

Ever Active Schools teacher Jamie Anderson told CBC, “A lot of folks who are in isolation are really missing their families right now.”

“So we’re just trying to fill in some of the gaps and bring them a little bit of joy and levity during these difficult times.”

Calling the hotline isn’t the only way to connect. The Joy4All team even encourages their peers to submit their own messages and recordings through their website. A message on their website offers guidelines for would-be contributors:

“Children and youth can submit their own written messages, content, and even recordings! We encourage kindness, creativity, and diverse messages of joy, especially for our Indigenous elders in isolation as well as seniors who are Newcomers, Immigrants, and Refugees.”

The hotline is currently a work in progress. Students plan to update pre-recorded content through June, but will continue if quarantine is not lifted over the summer.

The hotline is available by calling 1-877-JOY-4ALL.

Many states offer other resources for seniors in quarantine. Also, many visitor and companionship programs have shifted their offerings to include phone and video options.

Some ideas for maintaining connection throughout this difficult time include calling friends, neighbors and family, or even organizing a phone tree or utilizing one that already exists at local churches, affinity clubs, and housing projects.

For people of any age, the daily check-in call has never been more important, but it’s especially necessary for those who have to be alone at this time. Call the older adults you love.

If you’d like to submit joyful written or recorded content to joy4all, click here.

Susan LaMarca

Written by Susan LaMarca