Kindness can appear when you least expect it – and for two Waterloo Oxford students – they know it can make a lasting impact. The ‘Bridges of Hope’ campaign originated in the United Kingdom, but Olivia Miller and Gretta Dotzert created local opportunities in New Hamburg, Kitchener, and Waterloo, to offer support to someone suffering with their mental health.
The concept is simple – it aims to spread positivity and raise mental health awareness by attaching encouraging and heart-warming messages on local bridges. Throughout the planning of the campaign, the students contacted all the necessary government organizations to secure the proper permissions, promoted it on social media to generate interest – and Bridges of Hope (Waterloo Region) was born.
The first Bridges of Hope event was held at Hartman Bridge in New Hamburg, followed by Kitchener’s Freeport Street Bridge and then Waterloo Park’s walking bridge. The students invited anyone who wished to post a message to purchase a ticket and participate.
“The notes are laminated, and then get attached to the railings of the bridge,” explained Dotzert. One note reads, “You Are Loved.” Another reminds, “You Are Not Alone.”
The events not only raised awareness but they also supported a sense of community. Schools and students from across the WRDSB sent in messages of support and organizers were encouraged by the response.
“I think that being high school students especially, in this generation, you see all of the different dynamics, and with the amount of people opening up about mental health, it’s pretty important to make sure people are heard,” said Miller.
On the campaign website, Miller and Dotzert, who have interests in positive psychology and social justice comment, “We believe that by doing this, we can positively affect the lives of many in our community, especially those who need encouragement the most.”
Their contributions to raising awareness and supporting others proves that two people with the right intentions, can provide a voice for thousands more.