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Holiday cards for a cause

Published on

Tara Jeffrey

Reid Eyre didn’t know what to expect when he decided to launch a Christmas card project in partnership with Bluewater Health.

“Honestly, I was shocked,” said the president and project coordinator of the Rotaract Club of Sarnia-Lambton, in response to the artwork created by local youth from the hospital’s child and adolescent mental health inpatient unit. “The quality is simply stunning… I absolutely love them.”

The paintings, created during an art therapy session, were reproduced as holiday cards printed on premium stock paper, and are available now for purchase – with proceeds going back to the unit.

“I really wanted to do something impactful, something that our membership was passionate about,” said Eyre, who, along with other club members, participated in the art session with the patients, led by recreational therapist Beth Clifford-Core.

“It wasn’t even about the cards; it was about doing something with the paediatric patients, where they could contribute, and get to see it come together.”

The ‘Holly Jolly Christmas Cards’ are available in packs of six, for $25, at The Book Keeper, Kay’s Petals and Plants, Poppies (Bluewater Health gift shop) and the Bluewater Health Foundation office.

Rotaract is a global network of young leaders aged 18 to 30. Locally, the Rotary-sponsored service club boasts about 20 members, and was formally chartered earlier this year.

Though members have been participating in several smaller initiatives, it’s the first major independent project they’ve undertaken.

The cause, he added, is important to club members, some of whom have benefitted from the hospital’s mental health services.

“When people think of mental health, I don’t think they often realize there is a separate unit for young people,” said Eyre. “Not only are we going to be able to give them some funds at the end of this, but we’re also drawing attention to the unit and hopefully get more support from other organizations.”

More than 200 children and youth were admitted to the hospital’s mental health inpatient unit in 2017, which is “consistently full,” said Kathy Alexander, Bluewater Health Foundation director.

“We’ve seen tremendous increase with respect to children and adolescents presenting in crisis at our emergency department,” she said. “We know that the space is so critical to youth in our community.”

Funds from the holiday cards will help purchase additional materials for recreational therapy, which is held daily for both child and adult patients.

“The inpatient lounge is now filled with artwork created by the patients, and the messaging behind it is so powerful,” she said. “It has really enhanced the environment.

“People look up and see, ‘hey, someone was here before me, and this is what they created. And they’re doing OK.’”

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