One organization is asking for children’s help to boost the morale of Calgary’s first responders as the COVID-19 outbreak continues across the globe.
Laura Szarka is the founder of the Code 15 project, an initiative aimed at improving first responders’ mental health by connecting those in need with resources and peer-to-peer support.
Szarka has reached out to the community to ask for their support in thanking these workers who continue to put their health and safety at risk amid the pandemic.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s really highlighted the need for our first responders’ mental health to be a priority,” she said during an interview with CHQR 770 .
“Paramedics, firefighters, police officers and nurses; they’re serving our community selflessly and at the same time, they’re facing the same struggles at home that we have with this pandemic. So we wanted to show our support and give them encouragement and gratitude.”
LISTEN: Kids pay thanks to Calgary’s first responders during COVID-19 outbreak
In hopes of highlighting the community’s gratitude, Szarka asked children to share their thank you notes and artwork and so far, the response has been overwhelming.
So far, the project has received more than 50 thank you notes.
Szarka said the thought behind each piece goes a long way for first responders.
“It really does impact us,” she said.
“The call volume goes up for first responders at a time like this. People are scared and first responders are humans too, and we also have a lot of fear at this time.
“So when we see people showing us gratitude, it really motivates us to keep going.”
The idea behind the Thank You initiative stems from a similar gift Szarka received during a tough time in her life.
“As a first responder, I’ve worked through some other things, like the Ebola scare. I received a card in the mail from one of my co-workers’ children,” she said.
“It was just so innocent and beautiful. It was a reminder that people really do care about us when we’re feeling pretty low.”
Szarka hopes even more people will send along their thoughts of gratitude as the outbreak continues in the city.
With many organizations closing their doors to the public during the pandemic, Szarka said she isn’t accepting in-person submissions.
She said all artwork can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, or people can upload their photos to Instagram and tag her to have them featured on the Thank You page on the Code 15 projects website.
“It means a lot.
“It boosts morale quite a bit and really helps remind us why we’re doing this.”