It was March, the lockdown was in full swing and Jamie Hellard found herself in need of a new hobby.
“I was actually scrolling through TikTok and I found these amazing chalk art examples, and I was like ‘hey I think I can probably do that,'” Hearld told CHEK.
Prior to the pandemic, the 3rd year University of Victoria student could normally be found studying or swimming for the varsity Vikes. Her talent in the pool even earned her a birth in the Tokyo Olympic Games swimming trials.
But when COVID-19 hit, however, everything changed.
So with some additional spare time, Hellard picked up a piece of chalk, started practicing, and eventually drew an elaborate Easter-inspired gift for her niece.
“Kids seem to like this,” she said. “It brings me a lot of joy to see their reactions and just to be able to give them some joy in this time of uncertainty, and I was like, I bet I could do something with this.”
Hellard had her eye on helping others and reached out to the Island Kids Cancer Association – a non-profit she’s been connected to ever since she lost a family friend to cancer in high school.
“I think COVID’s really hit hard for everybody, but when you’re a pediatric oncology patient you already have a compromised immune system,” she said. “I just wanted to find some way to safely brighten their day.”
Hellard wanted to make it a surprise for the kids, so she’d sneak outside the patient’s homes at night and get to work. In the morning, the kids would wake up to a personalized birthday message. A positive gesture letting the kids know they are not alone.
“I think she’s a pretty amazing young lady,” said Tania Downey, family navigator for the Island Kids Cancer Association. “To take time out of her life, to be able to put a smile on a young person’s face, it speaks a lot to her and her integrity.”
What started as a new pastime for Hellard, has now brought smiles to dozens of kids in Greater Victoria dealing with the fight of their lives.
“It’s the best feeling in the world – honestly these kids are amazing and I’m just so grateful for that opportunity and for the chance to be able to give these kids the joy that they so deserve because they’re amazing,” said Hellard.
A seemingly small gesture, making a world of difference.