Project JOY Connects Older Adults, High Schoolers for Conversation and Camaraderie
In this time of uncertainty and isolation, Cannon School junior Drake Griffith (pictured above, left) was certain of a few constants. Students would work to adapt to a home school situation. Adults would strive to create some sort of balance in this "new normal." And the senior citizen population, already isolated before the COVID-19 crisis, would struggle more than ever before to connect with others. That was how Drake felt about his own grandmother before she died just a few weeks ago.
"My Nana didn't have a whole lot of company even before this situation," he said. "And I knew a lot of other older adults were experiencing the same thing. Which is sad, because they can offer kids so much insight and knowledge from their own lives."
In his grandmother's memory, Drake decided to try and do something to remedy that situation. With the help of team members Reilly Kungl
(Cannon School '21, pictured above, right) and Harrison Powe (Lake Norman Charter '21) he created "Project Joy," which stands for "Joining Older Adults and Youth."
The concept is simple - pair a high school student with an older adult for phone conversation and connection. Each "senior" (older adult) and "junior" (high school student) would decide together how often the junior would call, so the two could have a set-aside time to talk.
"Project Spread Joy not only serves a positive purpose during the current COVID-19 crisis, but it also serves to create lasting relationships long into the future," said Drake. "Being able to build and maintain a relationship with a senior is something that every young person should have an opportunity to do. The amount of wisdom and advice that can be given from older generations is limitless."
Drake and his team began recruiting members just last week through social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat, and quickly garnered over 40 eager student volunteers. They are looking for more seniors, and hoping that assisted living centers and retirement communities can help.
If you are interested in becoming a "senior" or a "junior," or know someone who might be, you can learn more at spreadjoy.info