As more researchers and doctors recommend the benefits of handwriting for children and senior citizens, two Kamloops, British Columbia, organizations — Summit Elementary School and the Berwick on the Park retirement community — have joined Domtar’s PaperPal program.
Unveiled by Domtar’s PaperBecause campaign in February, the PaperPal program connects generations through letter writing. It helps youths develop fine motor skills, spurs seniors to practice a useful cognitive exercise and gives both groups enjoyable and enriching connections.
Domtar tested the program in 2015 at a school and a retirement community in Van Nuys, California. The project, chronicled in this short video, was so successful that the groups wanted to continue writing letters even after the initial two-month period ended.
Since then, the PaperPal program has spread throughout Canada and the United States. Volunteers at Domtar’s pulp mill in Kamloops recently pushed to bring PaperPal to their community as part of their work with the EarthChoice Ambassadors program, which encourages employees to make a difference.
“Research about the benefits of handwriting shows why this program can be useful,” said Mike Sun, the EarthChoice Ambassador spearheading the Kamloops plan. “But besides the educational and cognitive benefits, Domtar is excited about how it will spark smiles and hugs for children and senior citizens. You see that in the video and in other places where PaperPal is now running, and we can’t wait to see it in Kamloops.”
Teachers at Summit Elementary School were immediately drawn to PaperPal.
“This will be a fun way to help students grow academically,” said Rena Murdoch, who teaches second and third grade. “The importance of purposeful writing experiences for children is what PaperPal provides, and knowing that this also benefits the residents of the retirement community makes us that much more excited.”
The residents at Berwick on the Park are also benefitting from the Kamloops PaperPal program, which launched in April.
“Our residents can’t wait to share their stories with the children, and they’ll also be so happy to hear the voices of the students,” said Paula Popadynetz, Berwick on the Park’s recreation manager. “It’s very heartening, and it’s very rewarding.”
To learn more about PaperPal or to receive a starter kit, please visit Domtar’s PaperBecause website.