“You got this!” “You are strong.” “We care about you!”
Over the last month, Cornell students in COVID-19 quarantine and isolation housing have received hand-made cards with these and other encouraging messages from local elementary school children as part of a Cornell Health initiative to boost student well-being.
"The quarantine process can be very lonely,” said Parker ’21, an Arts & Sciences student. “When I received the card I was happy to hear someone else was thinking of me. It was so heartwarming that I took a picture of it so I would never forget.”
Staff members at Cornell Health communicate daily with students in quarantine and isolation housing due to a COVID-19 diagnosis or exposure to help monitor and provide guidance for physical symptoms. They also help support students’ mental health by compiling daily wellness activities and providing free Let’s Talk consultations and therapist-led workshops. For this most recent initiative, Susan Geisler, director of physical therapy, and Amy Sucheski-Drake, clinical director of sports medicine, reached out to local elementary schools to partner on a creative project that school children could participate in to support their older counterparts at Cornell.
“It has been inspiring to see the kids giving positive encouragement and empathy, as many of them are studying virtually as well,” said Dr. Sucheski-Drake. “We even received a card to lend support to some of the healthcare workers.”
Feelings of loneliness are widespread during the pandemic, and additional efforts are underway to facilitate community connections. Geisler, Sucheski-Drake, and their colleagues have connected with the Cornell University Childcare Center to provide an opportunity for Cornell students in isolation and quarantine to volunteer remotely with children through reading, music, and dance. With the end of the pandemic not yet in site, staff are also expanding the volunteer program to include other local schools as well.