Yukon wilderness, pets, sports, video games, friends and family.
Those are a few of the things that local children are grateful for, expressed through an art campaign by Paolo Gallina, Liberal MLA for Porter Creek Centre.
“The situation that we’re all in, responding to the pandemic, and having to stay safe, I know that changes in our lives have had an impact on all of us,” Gallina said.
“I’m a father of young children, and I see how they’ve been impacted, and I know that children in the territory have been impacted.”
Gallina told the News he has focused on gratitude with his own family as a way of managing the stress of the pandemic.
He extended that focus to all children in a Gratitude Campaign last month. He called on Yukon children aged 12 and under to submit a “fun, colourful drawing of something they are thankful for.”
He received more than 50 submissions from children highlighting the good things in their lives.
“What stood out for me was the connection to what makes Yukon unique — our access to the outdoors, connection to the land, and connection to being out on the land with your family and friends, and the animals that we live with and share our home with,” he said.
Gallina received classroom submissions from Jack Hulland and Holy Family elementary schools, as well as several pieces from individual families.
Five winning pieces of artwork were recently selected. The winners will receive an art pack, a donation of $30 to the charity of their choice and 25 blank cards featuring their designs.
Gallina plans to display the winning artwork on bus bench advertisements, social media posts and greeting cards to Porter Creek constituents.
The cards to constituents will include a list of supports for people during the pandemic, including sources for business, mental health and vaccine information.
The five winning pieces include a playground scene by Stella Maris Burns, 10, expressing gratitude for playing with friends and spending time with them at school. Benjamin Carre, 7, expressed gratitude for nature in a sunset mountainscape. Luke said he is grateful for wildlife with a mountainscape framed by sunshine and a river. Mikhail submitted a colourful tree with a family holding hands under a rainbow. Faith submitted a drawing of a child underneath two hearts, saying she is “thankful for everyone.”
Gallina said he hopes the gratitude campaign was helpful to kids during a challenging time.
“I think it helps reinforce with people what is important to them, what they are thankful for, and to find some ways to be happy, content, to feel good as we all are in a changing world,” he said.
After the art campaign, Gallina travelled to Jack Hulland Elementary School to speak with a Grade 1 class about traversing a pandemic world.
“We had a conversation about how things are different and what that means, what it means to be safe,” he said.
The children discussed safe spacing and mask-wearing. Inspired by the conversation, many children chose to wear their masks at their desks, Gallina said.
“It was pretty cool to see children feel comfortable with safety measures that are new to them, to a degree. I think it was nice for them to feel comfortable,” he said.
“I think it was nice for them to have someone come in and show them that, hey, things have changed, but things are okay. We talked about what some of the children had written about — wilderness and family and friends.”
Contact Gabrielle Plonka at firstname.lastname@example.org