The Bounce Back Philly (BBP) program of the Department of Public Health provides resources and support to people who need to safely separate from their friends and family when they have or have been exposed to COVID-19.

The BBP Creative Corner is a monthly newsletter providing support to people during their isolation and quarantine period. Each issue includes inspiring personal stories as well as original artwork, creative writing, recipes, games, and other activities.  The newsletter is for Philadelphians, by Philadelphians.

Perhaps there is no better time than now for us to make a special effort to communicate our caring for one another. COVID-19 has brought feelings of disconnection, increased anxiety, and loneliness. We know times have been tough.  While we may feel limited in the face of COVID-19, we do have the power and opportunity to act on behalf of our well-being. The BBP Creative Corner provides a space for Philadelphians to feel connected and engaged with others who are sharing similar experiences.

So let’s get started! Download the latest issue here, or see below for this month’s highlights and ways to submit your creative work for possible publication in a future issue.

Vaccine Hesitancy is Real for People with Allergies

Written by Marion Leary | Illustrated by Ginny Robison

As a nurse and public health practitioner, I understand the devastation the pandemic has caused, I believe wholeheartedly in science, and I am very much pro-vaccine. Still, I am also a person who suffers from several severe allergies, including allergic reactions to the flu vaccine and anaphylactic reactions to shellfish. Therefore, I was extremely hesitant to even consider getting the COVID-19 vaccine. But, I also firmly believe it is my job to model good behavior, decrease vaccine hesitancy, and help dissuade the public’s fears.

In early February, when I was first notified that I was eligible to be vaccinated, I went into full-on panic mode and swore I would not get the vaccine. But as I allowed my panic to subside and my scientific brain to take over, I decided I needed to feel the fear and do it anyway.

I was an anxious wreck leading up to my appointment; I couldn’t sleep and was in a state of panic while awake. On the morning of the vaccination, I almost canceled, fight or flight in full effect, but I knew I couldn’t. The vaccine is bigger than just me; the vaccine protects my family and protects the community.

With a lot of support, masked deep breaths and Benadryl, I got the vaccine. As my sister so kindly Tweeted while she waited with me post-shot, “As much as I’ve wanted to stab her [@marionleary] with something over the years, it’s not going to be today cause she’s gonna be just fine!” And I was.

Read Marion’s full story 

A New Life

Written by Jennifer Nieves Echevarria | Illustrated by Jennyfer Osuna

COVID-19 came to destroy and delay my life. My mom is 58 years old. She is a very healthy and active female who worked with children and loved her job. She started to feel some minor aches and needed to get some tests done. Because of COVID-19, my mom was scared to visit the hospital and to get exposed to COVID-19 so everything was delayed. My mom’s appointments were delayed from March 2020 to August 2020 because of this chaos. I’ve had it!

I took my mom to the E.R. and that’s when we found out she had stage 3 colon cancer. She had no symptoms, was gaining weight (not losing it), and had no blood in her stool even though we tested it twice. I always ask myself, if they had found it in March before the COVID-19 shutdown, would the cancer have been caught sooner and not end in stage 3?

COVID-19 delayed our lives. Now we are exposed to COVID-19 more than ever because we are going to chemotherapy and radiation therapy every day at our local hospital. COVID-19 changed our lives! It’s now a year later and people are still scared to visit doctors and hospitals. Yes, COVID-19 is real, but so is your health. Don’t let COVID-19 stop you from going to the doctor and checking your health. If you are 45 years and older (male or female), please schedule your colonoscopy. This can save your life!

Mindfulness and relaxation

Stressed? Here are some ways to help you relax and breathe.

Body Scan

Lie on your back with your legs extended and arms at your sides, palms facing up. Focus your attention slowly and deliberately on each part of your body, in order, from toe to head or head to toe. You should be aware of any sensations, emotions or thoughts associated with each part of your body.

Guided Meditation

Sit comfortably with your back straight, feet flat on the floor, and hands in your lap. Breathe through your nose, focus on your breath moving in and out of your body. If physical sensations or thoughts interrupt your meditation, note that thought, and then return your focus to your breath.

Journal Entry

Writing down how you are feeling in a journal can help relieve stress and decrease worry. Continue to write down your thoughts and feelings each day. Don’t have a journal? Create your own book after writing your daily entries.

Affirmation Statements

Affirmation statements help shift your mind away from negative thoughts and direct your focus toward your strengths — those you already have and those you want to grow.

Try using these phrases and repeat to yourself:

  • I am confident and calm.
  • I am thankful for what I have right now.
  • I appreciate what my body can do.
  • I can do difficult things.
  • I am kind to myself.

Activities, games, and more

Each issue of the Creative Corner newsletter includes stress-free activites to engage readers during their period of isolation and quarantine.  This month’s issue also includes indoor gardening advice, tips to write poetry, haikus and limericks, and a variety of word games, sudokus, and other puzzles.

Download all this and more in the latest issue


Be a part of the newsletter!

We will publish selected submissions of creative work in future editions of the Creative Corner newsletter. Not comfortable giving your name? You can use an alias or make up a name.

Share your story with us

Do you have a story or poem you’d like to tell about your COVID-19 experience? We want to hear it!

Share your artwork with us

Would you like to express your visual side? Here’s your chance to showcase your artwork and promote creative ways to inspire others. You can draw, paint, sculpt, create a collage, or take pictures – the method of expression is unlimited and up to you.