If the last year or two has taught us anything, it’s that our health and healthcare workers are important. To recognize that, East Lansing Public Schools elementary school students took time to write heartfelt letters showing their appreciation for Sparrow Hospital Lansing staff earlier this month.
As part of a school-wide initiative at Robert L. Green Elementary School, students participated in the Warm Hands Warm Hearts Project, which focused on ways to give back to the community. A first grade teacher at Robert L. Green Elementary, Jamie Harbin, spoke about the initiative.
“Each week, we have been focusing on how to be thoughtful, caring, and how to give back to the community,” said Harbin. “We have done a different act of kindness for every week of the month. During one of the weeks in January, the entire school wrote ‘thank you’ letters to people throughout the community.”
Fellow first grade teacher Alysha Looney said each grade level wrote to a different ‘helpers’ throughout the community. Letters from students in other grades were sent to grocery store employees, sanitation workers, and 44 first graders wrote original, heartfelt, personal messages to Sparrow workers.
“We talked about things we’re thankful for, and how those healthcare workers help us and our families in the community,” Looney said.
While the letter-writing process itself is part of the first grade curriculum, Looney said it was also “important for the students to realize that, even in the first grade, they’re a part of the community.”
Harbin said the students were thrilled to write their letters to the Sparrow healthcare workers.
“Many have a family member that work there and were thrilled to be a part of this activity,” she said. “Most did not know other classes were writing to other organizations, but I don’t think it would have mattered. They view our doctors, nurses, and all hospital staff as heroes, especially in a time like today.”
The teachers gave prompts to help students get started with their messages, showing them a few general sentences to write on their cards. Then, students were allowed to add any personal stories or notes they wanted to include.
“Many children chose to add some personal experiences about hospital visits they had for different injuries or illnesses,” Harbin said. “It was adorable to see the thanks they were pouring out because they truly felt taken care of while they were admitted. They felt safe during a scary time for their little bodies and minds.”
The letters were written two weeks ago, and delivered, but the impact is still being felt from both the senders and receivers. The Principal, Mrs. Webster, received an email and phone call from the Vice President of Sparrow, expressing their gratitude and appreciation for the thoughtfulness of the students.
“We even told the students how grateful the staff was, and their faces beamed with pride,” Harbin said. “Children are still talking about it here and there. I do believe it makes a positive impact when we ask them to draw from within to say ‘thank you’ to others.”