COVID has got us communicating and socializing in all kinds of new ways—Zooming, Facetiming, shout-chatting from two metres away through multiple layers of cotton mask. This fall, an old way—letter-writing— will become new again, for youth at Bowen Island Community School (BICS) and anyone wanting to be their “Grandfriend Pen Pal.”
You could be a “grand” friend to students at BICS if you’re 55 years old or over, and are interested in writing a letter per month to BICS students and receiving letters from students in return. We’re looking for older adults who want to share their stories, lives and love of writing with youth.
The program starts in October and will run throughout the school year and is open to all Bowen Island community members age 55+ and all BICS students in kindergarten to grade seven.
BICS has partnered with the Bowen Island Public Library for this reconceptualized version of the tried-and-true Grandfriends program.
Grandfriends has been running for 25 years at BICS, seeking to foster community connections and building intergenerational social connections in traditional and new ways. These connections are even more important during COVID times, when it can be that much more challenging to stay in touch with friends, family and community.
Bowen Library is excited to partner with BICS on this new pen pal version of Grandfriends, as we share similar mandates to foster connections and to promote literacy. Both BICS and Bowen Library appreciate the importance of intergenerational connections and we very much wanted to provide a new COVID-safe way of continuing the Grandfriends program.
Participating Grandfriends will go to the library to drop off and pick up their monthly letters to students (we can also mail them to you if needed).
Grandfriends can also participate via email, if email is preferred or something they would like to learn. The library’s tech tutor is always here to guide anyone through using email or their devices. There will also be optional opportunities for the Grandfriends to connect via video chat with BICS classrooms from the Bowen Library, with library staff guiding individual participants to connect successfully and securely. It’s all about exploring new-to-you ways of communicating and connecting!
To get involved as a Grandfriend Pen Pal, register online by Oct. 15 at bipl.link/penpals or ask for a paper registration form at the Bowen Island Public Library. And of course, you can always call us at the library to register over the phone.
Find more information about the Grandfriends Pen Pals Program at bowenlibrary.ca; email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us at (604) 947-9788.