July 14, 2021
Holding a few of the Wishing Day crafts, made by students in Grades 6-8 at Gilbert Paterson Middle School, are teacher Shelly David, left, Chinook interim unit manager Lori Westerson, and volunteer resources co-ordinator Filomena Laporte-Packer.
Story & photo by Sherri Gallant
LETHBRIDGE — Students at Gilbert Paterson Middle School recently found a way to brighten things up for dozens of patients at Chinook Regional Hospital.
This past May 1 — also known as Wishing Day — saw one of their teachers, Shelly David, bring their handmade crafts, bearing positive messages, to the hospital.
“We wanted to share the art we created, paired with a wish in hopes that you might be inspired to make a wish of your own,” states a note attached to each craft — along with wishes such as ‘I hope this makes you smile today’ and ‘I hope you enjoy this project’.
“Two years ago the entire school division did a novel study of The Wishtree, by Katherine Applegate,” says David. “The story is told from the point of view of a tree, and it has messages about resilience, acceptance and about perseverance through hard times.
“One of the activities in the novel is Wishing Day, in which community members come together May 1 every year, write out wishes on a ribbon, and tie the ribbon to a tree.”
When the big day arrived this year, students found themselves studying online from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Their teachers chose to mark Wishing Day by sending a video message to let them know “we’ll get through this, we’re missing you, and we’re thinking of you,” adds David.
As well this year, staff combined efforts and gathered supplies to make wooden blocks, decorated with birds and other animals, who are also characters in The Wishtree.
In turn, every student at the school created a block (some made more than one), and David delivered the completed blocks to the hospital, seniors’ residences and other Lethbridge locations.
David’s sister Lori Westerson, the interim manager on Unit 5A at Chinook, helped with logistics at the hospital. Her son, Shaun, cut and bagged the wooden blocks (650 of them), making their thoughtfulness a truly family affair.