‘It was just astounding:’ Yukoners craft 150 bookmarks for seniors

Mairi Macrae, public programs librarian, showcases one of the works of art to come in through the Bright Side Project. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)Mairi Macrae, public programs librarian, showcases one of the works of art to come in through the Bright Side Project. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Melissa Yu Schott, director of public libraries (left) and Mairi Macrae, public programs librarian, deliver a basket of bookmarks and cards as part of the Bright Side project to Cynthia Onions, supervisor of recreation and psychosocial services at Whistle Bend Place for residents there. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)Melissa Yu Schott, director of public libraries (left) and Mairi Macrae, public programs librarian, deliver a basket of bookmarks and cards as part of the Bright Side project to Cynthia Onions, supervisor of recreation and psychosocial services at Whistle Bend Place for residents there. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
One of the pieces to come in through the Bright Side Project that will go to residents of long-term care homes. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)One of the pieces to come in through the Bright Side Project that will go to residents of long-term care homes. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)

A project spearheaded by Yukon Public Libraries is brightening up the days for residents of long-term care facilities in the territory.

The Bright Side project started in April with craft kits being made available at the Whitehorse Public Library as well as some libraries in the communities. Residents were asked to use the craft kits to “send a bright message to a resident of Yukon care home” with the creations from the craft kits — often bookmarks and cards — returned to the library to then be delivered to residents of the long-term care homes.

The program has proven so popular, with 150 bookmarks and cards created and returned in April, that it’s been extended until the end May.

Melissa Yu Schott, director of public libraries, explained in a May 12 interview that the project was an initiative that came about due to COVID-19.

“It’s very heavy, this pandemic,” she said, noting that many library patrons seem to want to reach out to others in the community.

Mairi Macrae, public programs librarian, came up with the idea for the Bright Side, thinking homemade bookmarks and cards would be one way for those in the community to safely reach out to those who aren’t able to get out and about as easily.

When libraries took the idea to Health and Social Services staff at long-term care facilities, it was met with excitement.

“They probably see a need,” Yu Schott said.

Inside each craft kit bag are a variety of supplies ranging from feathers to shiny paper to stickers and more – to help create a masterpiece with participants also invited to use any material they might have around their homes.

The project seems to have tapped into the creative side of many Yukoners with no two creations looking the same.

Yu Schott described it as a “pleasant surprise” to see the 150 bookmarks and creations that have been returned, each one unique with its own design and message to the reader.

In some cases, the creator is clearly younger and working on their writing skills, while in other cases, the creator appears to be older and has copied a poem or saying they enjoy or come up with on their own.

“That’s been wonderful to see,” Yu Schott said.

As Macrae put it: “It was just astounding to see what people did with this stuff.”

Many added a little more flair to their projects from their own supplies at home, with one even including a watercolour painting with the bookmark they created. Another created small origami pieces.

Messages contained in the cards wished the reader joy, good wishes and other pleasantries.

“Every single one is different,” Macrae said as she showed off some of the work. “Each card is totally original and unique.”

She said she was amazed at the creativity and time people put into the project.

After receiving the basket full of cards and bookmarks, Cynthia Onions, supervisor of recreation and psychosocial services at Whistle Bend Place, said “it’s wonderful” to have the community reach out. The craftwork will serve as a reminder to residents that they are part of a larger community, she said.

The 150 creations will be displayed throughout the facility for everyone to enjoy, Onions said.

Craft kits continue to be available at the Whitehorse Public Library with those taking part in the Bright Side Project being asked to drop off their completed pieces by May 31.

The next batch of Bright Side pieces in Whitehorse will be delivered to Copper Ridge Place. In other participating communities, the Bright Side project pieces will be delivered to long-term care homes and seniors who live in those communities.

While the project will end May 31, Yu Schott said it’s something the libraries will consider doing again in the future.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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