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Clarington seniors see the world through new ‘Postcard Pals’ program

‘Postcard Pals’ program lets Clarington seniors see the world
Many seniors don't have the opportunity to travel, but a Clarington long-term care facility has launched a new program that allows residents to see the world from the comfort of home. Jasmine Pazzano has more.

Muriel Cornelius has never travelled outside of North America, but she has spent the last couple months “seeing” the world.

A new program called “Postcard Pals” at her Bowmanville, Ont., long-term care home, Glen Hill Strathaven, invites people around the world to send Cornelius, and the centre’s other residents, postcards about where they’re from or where they are travelling.

“They make me happy because I know they’re having a good life as well,” Cornelius, 82, said of her new pen pals.

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Christina McConachie spearheaded the program at the life-care centre, and she says since starting the program earlier this year, they have received 40 cards from around the world, from Barbados to New Zealand. The program’s Facebook page includes many pictures of the postcards they have received.

“We decided it would be a great opportunity to let our residents see the world,” said McConachie, a program manager at the care centre. “Quite a few of our residents have travelled a lot in their younger days, and some, not so much.”

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A postcard from Clearwater Beach in Florida reads that its “white sandy beach has been ranked as one of the best beaches in the USA” and that a friend of the sender brought the postcard home with her so the residents know that she was thinking of them. A card from New Caledonia shows crystal-clear water and palm trees.

“It makes me very happy to learn about the different countries, how they live, and what they do,” said Rosemary Schwartzel, 86, a resident of the home.

“I can’t walk, and I’m stationary after all my travels,” said her husband, Derrick Schwartzel, with a laugh. “So, it’s pretty important to be able to see other places.”

The home features a map on a wall of its common room, and the seniors have been putting pins on it to mark the locations from where they have received postcards. McConachie also gives the residents virtual tours of the places on the postcards using Google Street View.

Cornelius says she has always wanted to travel to England, and this is her chance to find out more about it. “I’ll have to learn through the postcards,” she said.

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Anyone who would like to send a postcard to the centre’s residents is invited to mail it to:
Postcard Pals
C/O Strathaven
264 King St E
Bowmanville, ON
L1C 1P9

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