'Heartwarming' initiative for 'oldies' goes viral amid coronavirus lockdown

Marni Dixit
Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
The Facebook group Drawings For Oldies was created for parents to send those in aged care facilities photos of their children's drawings to brighten their days. Photo: Getty

The spread of coronavirus has made seeing friends and family very difficult and it's especially tough for those living in aged care facilities who are unable to receive visitors due to the many restrictions now in place.

But one woman has found a way to spread some joy to those on lockdowns in aged care facilities.

Journalist Clare Rigden has created a Facebook group called Drawings For Oldies where she's encouraging people to send photos of their children's drawings for the "oldies" to enjoy.

Posting in the group Clare said, "In this time of self-isolation and lock-downs at Aged Care facilities, I've decided to help connect Old Folks with Little People who want to help brighten their day with a drawing!

"If you know someone who may like a letter/drawing sent digitally (or posted, if the aged care facility will allow it), let people know in the comments. If you would like to send a drawing, this is your place to connect! Let's try to grow this page and spread some joy - one crayon picture at a time."

Clare Rigden created Drawings for Oldies to brighten the days of those in aged care facilities. Photo: Facebook

Speaking with Yahoo! Lifestyle, Clare said she got the idea from her sister, "My sister is a GP, and she pointed me to this great Facebook group called ‘Adopt a Healthcare worker’ - it’s essentially a resource for doctors/nurses and hospital workers to reach out to members of the public who are willing to lend a hand and help them in their everyday life while they’re pulling long shifts fighting coronavirus.

"I thought it was a lovely idea, and posted on the page asking if there were any people working in aged care who may like a drawing from my son to boost morale during the aged care shutdowns. He’s five, and loves to draw - I knew his drawings brightened my day, so figured it would probably help raise a smile with those feeling isolated right now.

"It had an overwhelming response, so I decided to set up a dedicated page to connect Aged Care homes with little drawers. It exploded, and we now have heaps of great drawings on the page for homes to print out (many aren’t accepting physical mail). Individual facilities can also post their address to connect direct with little ones who may like to draw or become a penpal with their residents."

She added that she believes it's a great way for older people to know they haven't been forgotten.

"In these times of social isolation and aged care home lockdowns, I think it’s a great way to make older people feel as though they’ve not been forgotten about, and that they are still loved - albeit from afar."

The reaction from the group has been "wonderful" according to Clare, who said it's a great way to explain what is happening in the world right now to young children.

She said, "I had a feeling it might connect with parents - when I mentioned wanting to do something similar to my mothers group friends, they were all onboard. We are all now at home trying to homeschool our kids, so it’s a great way to try to explain the crisis to them, and let them know that they can help in their own little way."

Clare got in touch with a number of homes to see if they'd be interested in the initiative and has since received messages saying how much the residents and staff enjoy the drawings.

Clare told Yahoo! Lifestyle, "I think it’s a great way to make older people feel as though they’ve not been forgotten about." Photo: Facebook

"I emailed out a bunch of drawings to a secure dementia ward in Rockingham, WA [and] Catherine, from the home, took a photo of the drawings she’d put up in the ward, and said how much they were being appreciated by the residents and the staff as well!

"It was so lovely to see. I’ve also had lots of messages from other homes saying they love the initiative. Here’s to raising a smile for the oldies - one crayon drawing at a time!"

Clare joked that she was getting through this strange new period thanks to wine, but added, "[I'm] just trying to take it one day at a time. I am trying to work from home, and also entertain my five year-old, which is not without its challenges.

"I’m trying to shelter him from the news as much as possible as I can sense him getting anxious. Which is quite difficult when you are a journalist, and keeping up with the news is LITERALLY your job! But we’re bunkered down at home, and trying to make the best of a bad situation. Drawings for Oldies is cheering me up no end!"

Clare added that the initiative is a great way to explain what is happening in the world to young children. Photo: Facebook

Messages from children include this one from three-year-old Emma, who said, “I love you so much. I hope you feel better and will be OK."

Nine-year-old Alice said, "We are thinking about you. And we care about you guys."

Isabelle, six, said, "I hope we can all go out soon."

Group members have been posting about how much they love the idea, one person joked, "When you invited me to join this group I was a bit insulted because I'm not that old. Then I realised that I wasn't one of the 'oldies' that the drawings were aimed at. Such a cool idea."

Someone else said, "Excellent idea. So heart warming to see all this love towards our oldies. Thank you!"

An Instagram page has also been set up with people wanting to participate asked to use the hashtag #DrawingForOldies on their own photos to be featured on their page.

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