Website helps people share personal COVID-19 stories with the public and elected officials

Click to play video: 'Website created to help share COVID-19 stories with public and elected officials' Website created to help share COVID-19 stories with public and elected officials
WATCH ABOVE: A group of web designers, developers and other tech experts have banded together to create a website where people can openly share their COVID-19 stories. While the experience can be cathartic in and of itself, as Katherine Ward reports, the stories are passed on to elected officials. – Apr 26, 2021

The pandemic has shone a light on many painful moments happening at home, around the province, and across the world.

A new website called is offering people a chance to share their own experiences directly with others, and anonymously if they choose.

A tweet calling on people who might be interested in launching the project caught the eye of several dozen people in the technology sector earlier this month.

“I had been looking for something to do, probably all of us have felt a bit helpless in some way,” said web developer Mike Wickett, one of the site’s volunteers.

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“I’m done being mad and frustrated and complaining,” said web designer Curtis VanderGriendt. “[I wanted] to do something with the skills that I have.”

The concept is simple: people submit stories, and the team posts them for anyone to read.

“You can see with some of them they are very short, very concise, others you get a feeling of someone just behind a keyboard just letting something out,” said Wickett.

Read more: ‘They’re struggling behind closed doors’: Doctors reveal disturbing stories of child maltreatment amid pandemic

What’s surprising is how fast the website came together. From concept to execution, the platform launched within five days.

The developers and volunteers are working on the project in their space time.

“I don’t think there is a night I have gone to bed before midnight,” said Natasha Burtenshaw-deVries, an SEO specialist.

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But submitting the story is only part of the process. After the submission is received, the team ensures it’s passed on to elected officials that correspond with the community the person is from.

“Hopefully influence the people who are in positions of power to look at these stories and not ignore them like they are ignoring many of the numbers and recommendations from experts,” said Burtenshaw-deVries.

Read more: Losing sight of the COVID-19 finish line: How more lockdowns, cases blur hope

Heartbreaking tales are pouring in. These are stories that might not make the news, but tell the stories of hidden struggles.

Wickett recalled how one submission detailed how a person going to a job interview was asked to remove their mask in a boardroom of people.

VanderGriendt talks about how it’s common to read stories about workplaces not following the rules.

“People being told to keep quiet and their boss said they are not supposed to let anyone know that the office is open,” VanderGriendt said.

The team behind the website knows the pandemic is far from over, but they said they remain hopeful the platform can offer some comfort in the meantime.

They also said more people are welcome to join the team if they want to help out.


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