Prince George creator of #heartsofpg aimed to calm own anxiety over COVID-19

In one week, the movement has caught on worldwide

Across the globe people have been taping paper hearts in windows to show solidarity during the COVID-19 pandemic inspired by a woman in Prince George, B.C.

Bailey Grose said she created #heartsofpg about one week into the pandemic taking shape in Canada as she was at home with her two young daughters and was beginning to find it all ‘a bit too much.’

“My inbox had 700 messages from friends, Facebook, the news and spam with information about what everyone was doing about it and I don’t typically have anxiety, but I felt it and was starting to get really worried.”

She’s an administrator on the ‘Hell Yeah Prince George’ Facebook page, which focuses on sharing feel-good stories within the community, and decided to post a question.

It read: “Is the Shamrock hunt going on because I’m kind of hoping to change it to hearts and see if we can get the community involved to connect while in isolation in some way.”

She posted it on March 17 at 6:30 p.m. and by the next morning it had gone completely viral.

Grose calls herself ‘just’ a stay-at-home mom, and said Facebook, social marketing and hashtags are not her kind of thing, so the fact her post went viral was ‘incredible.’

“I suddenly had all this stuff to deal with, but I also opened my curtains and discovered my neighbours had hearts on their window by that morning and it was pretty exciting.”

Her daughters were equally excited and helped Grose paint the windows.

The #heartsofpg Facebook page has 4,508 members of March 26 and the #heartsofpg instagram has received almost 300 posts.

Grose said many people have contacted her from all over asking if they can start their own group.

“I tell them ‘get your own page started’ it’s awesome, the more the better. There is the Hearts of Prince Rupert, Terrace, Burns Lake, Smithers, Houston, Nanaimo and an international group one.”

Read more: Hearts in windows connect Haida Gwaii residents while social distancing, self-isolating

She’s also received private messages that have really struck her heart.

One person was inspired to go draw chalk hearts outside the Lynn Valley Care Centre because of the COVID-19 related deaths there.

“That one really got me,” Grose said. “I got another private message the other day from a daughter whose mother is immune-compromised and has been in isolation in Kamloops.”

The daughter added her parents to the Hearts PG page, and messaged Grose, telling her the mom said the heart idea was keeping her going because she was ‘trapped.’ The mom had put up a heart and can look out the window and see so many other hearts.

“She wrote to me saying, ‘I want you to know from the deepest, most bottom part of my heart, I cannot thank you enough,’ which made me cry.”

Read more: Promontory community starts heart hunt to brighten spirits during COVID-19 outbreak

Heart photographs have come from places as far away as the U.K., Hamburg, Germany, New Zealand and South Africa.

Other pages such as ‘#AWorldofHearts’ have also taken off with more than 50,000 of followers.

She’s also been interviewed by media from Seattle, Wash.

Originally from New Hazelton, Grose has lived in Prince George for about five years.

Her daughters are four and six years old, and the younger one has been finding the isolation hard to understand.

The older one has been Facetiming friends, but the four-year-old has been struggling.

“She cried the other night and said she missed her friends and her craft table at pre-school.”

Trying to focus on her daughter’s mental health, she had a craft day the other day and then messaged some of the other moms to later do a drive-by for the children to hold the crafts out the window to show each other.

“We’ve been trying to focus on connecting her because I think she is having the most difficult time with it.”

In some ways, she added, Grose is feeling more connected with people now than ever.

“You have to make a conscious effort to check in with people whereas before you might have chatted quickly in a grocery store lineup and thought ‘I’m good to go.’ Now I find my little circle has gotten bigger.”

There is also #heartsofpg instagram page as well.

Many homes in the Williams Lake area have joined in the movement, with children and adults creating paper hearts of their own.

In the Wednesday, March 25 edition of the Williams Lake Tribune a large pink heart was included on a page for readers to cut out and paste in their windows if they choose.

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Williams Lake Tribune reporter Monica Lamb-Yorski encourages readers to cut out the heart from the Wednesday, March 25 edition to place in windows. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

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