Kitchener-Waterloo

Rainbow of handprints made by schoolchildren helps lift spirits of Kitchener, Ont., hospital workers

When Laura McCran-McDermott saw how another wave of the pandemic was impacting her colleagues in December, the social worker at St. Mary's General Hospital in Kitchener, Ont., asked her son's school if they could do anything to brighten spirits. They responded with a message of resilience.

Response 'showed how much kindness and compassion there really is in our community,' worker says

The poster made by a kindergarten class at Westwood Public School in Guelph, Ont., included flowers made from tissue paper and pipe cleaners, and a message from the students. (Submitted by Laura McCran-McDermott)

A kindergarten class at Westwood Public School in Guelph, Ont., made a large poster that includes a rainbow of handprints to brighten the spirits of workers at a Kitchener hospital.

Laura McCran-McDermott, a social worker at St. Mary's General Hospital, said that in December, she saw the toll the pandemic was having on her colleagues as they faced another wave of COVID-19 and increased hospitalizations.

She reached out to her son's school to see if there was anything the students could do to help hospital workers feel better, such as send cards or letters.

"They delivered this heart-inspiring and uplifting poster which was then hung on the wall on the main floor at St. Mary's Hospital," McCran-McDermott said in an email, sharing photos of the project.

"The way they took on this request just showed how much kindness and compassion their really is in our community."

The art project shows a rainbow of handprints from Westwood Public School students, photos of them walking through a crack and the words 'we are resilient.' It hangs in the foyer of St. Mary's General Hospital in Kitchener. (Submitted by Laura McCran-McDermott)

Early childhood educator Melissa Kooiman worked with students on the project with teacher Megan Monsma.

"We immediately knew this would be a project near and dear to our heart. We have been working hard to keep joy at the centre of our practice over the last two years of teaching through a pandemic," Kooiman said.

The class did a video and art project based on the Katy Perry song Resilient.

They talked about what resilience is and the idea of a flower growing out of a crack in a sidewalk. The children made marigold flowers out of tissue paper and pipe cleaners. Photos of the students taken from behind were glued onto the poster to make it look like they were walking through the crack towards the rainbow.

They also shared their video with several local hospitals.

"Despite the limitations and challenges COVID has presented us in the classroom, behind those tiny masks are happy, joyful children despite the unusual circumstances," Kooiman said.

The art project included lyrics from the song Resilient by popstar Katy Perry. (Submitted by Laura McCran-McDermott)

Sherri Ferguson, acting president of St. Mary's General Hospital, said staff were grateful for the "beautiful and heartfelt gift of artwork" from the class in mid-February.

"It is hung with deep pride and gratitude in our foyer and is a true reflection of how we, as a community, have come together to care for and support one another through the most challenging of times," Ferguson said.

"You cannot help but to pause, smile and reflect on the kindness and spirit that embodies each hand that went into making this."

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