Collecting Children’s Stories of Life During the Pandemic: Evaluation for Canadian Children’s Literacy Foundation

TNC recently had the pleasure of working with the Canadian Children’s Literacy Foundation (CCLF) to conduct a developmental evaluation of a great new program for children and youth. Lost & Found is a program intended to give children the tools to communicate their experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to embed their experiences into Canada’s history through national and local exhibitions of their stories. CCLF partnered with Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada (an organization that TNC is also proud to have a long-standing relationship with) and a wide range of other community-based organizations to develop and launch the program. 

The program was designed to be delivered to two different age groups, 0 to 6 and 7 to 12. The program curriculum for the younger age group was set up around two activity centres called “Planets”: one activity centre was a group art project, and the other contained activity sheets for writing and drawing. Another area in the set up, called the “Launch Pad”, was for children to voluntarily join in facilitated discussion (and to “launch” to whichever “planet” interested them). Prompts, in the form of visual cues on “memory cards” and “emotion cards,” were used to help children remember their experiences and feelings during the pandemic. Once children had communicated their stories through one of the available mediums, they were encouraged to share their stories through the “story transporter” (a cardboard box made to look like a spaceship).

The program curriculum for 7- to 12-year-olds was set up in four 75-minute sessions, ideal for after-school programs. The program for older children also included a sharing circle, similar to the “launch pad” for the younger children. They also had prompts at their disposal in the form of visual memory cards and an ideas gallery (to be inspired by each others’ pandemic stories), and a decorated box for collecting the stories and creations of the children. 

Some of the impacts on children and their caregivers included:

  • Engagement in the storytelling thanks to the multidimensional approach (writing, drawing, acting, and oral storytelling as options); 
  • The sense that they were becoming storytellers and that they could use storytelling to express themselves; 
  • Feeling an increased sense of community connectedness in relation to the pandemic (even the children recognized that storytelling allowed them to deeply connect with others);
  • Parents/caregivers learned about their children’s experiences during the pandemic and about how to encourage their children to express themselves through storytelling beyond the program;

By the end of the funding timeline (and TNC’s work with the evaluation), Lost & Found had been delivered to 5,179 children through partnerships with 40 organizations in over 100 locations across Canada. The stories collected were shared publicly via a Digital Exhibition and launch celebrations across the country. The Digital Exhibition can be found here:

CCLF was funded by Canada’s Department of Heritage to develop and implement Lost & Found.

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