Project Hope: Reflections of our youth

Photo Credit: Dr. Heather Patterson

“How might we reflect on the past to inspire HOPE for the future and bring our community back together?”

That was the question posed to 329 students ranging from kindergarten to grade 12, who were challenged to create essays, poems and artwork based on their individual experience with the pandemic.

Emergency physician and photographer Dr. Heather Patterson was inspired by her colleagues and the people around her to create a documentary photography project. Her goal was to tell the authentic story of what it looks like to be on the front line of a pandemic response. Her unique perspective as both a physician and photographer captured incredible images that were emotional, inspiring and vulnerable.

With her two children attending Calgary Academy, Dr. Patterson collaborated with the teachers to create “Project Hope”, a school-wide project that celebrates literacy, community and healing.

She donated her original photographs taken from the pandemic’s front line to the school to see how they resonated with children there. From ages 5-18, the creative interpretations were both emotional and inspiring.

Some provided perspectives offering their own mental health struggles, while others expressed their gratitude for healthcare workers. Their pieces were put on display throughout the halls of the school which attracted educators, parents, and fellow classmates to read, reflect and understand the impact the pandemic has had on everyone.

Project Hope was both cathartic and eye opening for students to see how similar and different their shared experience of the pandemic was. It provided a starting point to have important conversations and to help facilitate healing.

Photo Credit: Dr. Heather Patterson

What the students created floored teachers and parents as the work was incredibly powerful. The work was both inspiring, touching and heart-breaking. We would love to hear your story as well. We invite you to share your story on how the pandemic has affected your life. To share your story, go to:

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