A recent display of children’s artwork about the idea of community.  See below for more art and information.

The Bounce Back Philly (BBP) program of the Department of Public Health provides resources and support to people who need to isolate or quarantine (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 safe separation 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.


September 2021
Vol. 1, No. 4

Children’s Art Show Highlights the Idea of Community

Black ‘n Brew is a Philadelphia café that hosted a children’s art show this summer on the topic of “community.” The rules were simple: create a submission answering the question, “what does community mean to you?” and to paint, color, or draw the piece.

For some children, community meant the essential workers who continued to work during the pandemic. For others, it meant wearing masks to keep their community safe. Other children represented community as the place where they lived.

Selected highlights from the show appear below. For more artwork and information about the show, download the September 2021 issue of Creative Corner.


 


 


 



Self-Makeover at Home

Written by Zenia Lauw | Photos by Zenia Lauw

 

The pandemic has been a drawn-out crisis for everyone around the world. For some, the days start to melt together. When there are no places to go or people to see, days of the week start to lose a lot of their purpose.

Not being seen face-to-face by anyone but the people in your household makes it easy to stop caring about the way you look. Giving yourself a makeover is a form of self-care that may help with improving your mood and confidence. Here are some tips on different makeovers you can do while safely separating!

Switch up your hairstyle

Take this opportunity to experiment with hairstyles. Switching up the way you style your hair is the start to every makeover. Browse through Pinterest or Instagram to find the “perfect” hairstyle for you. Now might be the time to try that style that you always wanted.

If you like your hairstyle and don’t want to change it, try hair care. Give yourself a deep hair mask to make your hair noticeably shiny and soft. Improve the health of your hair by limiting the use of heat tools such as hairdryers, flat irons, and curling irons. Additionally, try rinsing your hair with cold or room temperature water as there are several benefits that come with that: it preserves the hair’s natural oils, makes your hair look smoother and shiny, and helps maintain a clean scalp!

Love your skin.

While safely separating, examine your skin and see what you can do to improve it. Your old routine may have caused you to ignore your skin care. One of the first ways to give yourself a skin makeover is to try a face mask or exfoliate the dull dead skin build up. Try to wash your face in the morning and night with a gentle face scrubber; this will drastically improve your skin and give it a nice healthy glow.

Glam up.

Finally, this is another opportunity you can take while safely separating! Changing your daily face makeup routine is another way to give yourself a makeover. Start by putting on the blush that you never use or that bold colored lipstick. Also try changing the shape of your eyebrows; it can change the way your face looks. The right makeup and style can be a major confidence booster! You can also take this time to throw out dry and expired makeup as it could have bacterial build up that can risk an infection.

Start with small steps and you will be surprised with how easy it is to give yourself a new and refreshing look!


Activities, Games, and More

Each issue of the Creative Corner newsletter includes stress-free activities to engage readers during their period of safe separation.  This month’s issue also includes advice about mindful goal setting, a quick and easy “taste of home” cake recipe, tips on how to create a song lyric mashup and write an original free verse, event listings, 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 COVID-19 story to tell or motivational message you want to share with our readers? We want to hear it!

Share your artwork with us

Would you like to express your creative 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.

Share your poetry with us

Do you have original poems you’d like to share? Send them our way!

Share your recipes with us

Want to share a simple recipe that reminds you of home? We’d love to hear from you!


ARCHIVED ISSUES

August 2021
Vol. 1, No. 3

Mural Arts Philadelphia’s Porch Light Department

Written by Melissa Fogg | Illustrated by Symone Salib from the Porch Light Department

This past pandemic year has taken so much from so many–physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Mural Arts Philadelphia’s Porch Light Department strives to connect individuals with creative arts programming to combat stigma around mental health struggles, reduce isolation, and to help build community conversations around these issues.

Through the Porch Light Department, the Southeast by Southeast and Northeast Passages programs work with immigrant and refugee communities around adjustment and acculturation issues. The pandemic has been especially hard on women. Disproportionately, women were pushed out of the workforce and saddled with childcare, homeschooling, and other logistics of care. The media eventually started to talk about these issues but ignored the additional burden that the pandemic placed on immigrant and refugee women who were community leaders.

The stories that the women in our programs were telling me said so much more–beyond all the obvious overwhelming stresses of life with COVID, they were upholding their communities. Every day they told stories of doing additional work for their communities. This included translating health information, advocating for educational equity and essential worker safety, organizing vaccine clinics, and so much more–all unpaid, and often thankless.

Seven women who are immigrant and refugee community leaders are recognized in this project. These portraits are meant to be a monument to the unpaid and essential work that women did over 2020-2021 as community leaders, mothers, and Philadelphians. Come see the full project at 512 South Broad Street, through 2021.


Dance Away the COVID Blues

Written by Sherri Wayne

 

“You’ve gotta dance like there’s nobody watching,
Love like you’ll never be hurt,
Sing like there’s nobody listening,
And live like it’s heaven on earth.”

― William W. Purkey

The COVID-19 pandemic has made a major impact on our lives. Many of us faced challenges that increased stress and strong emotions, and at times completely overwhelmed us.

This activity is to remind you that there are healthy ways to cope with the challenges that COVID-19 introduced to your life, and one way to cope is through dance.

The following steps are to a dance called the “Electric Slide.” It is a fun and easy dance. The Electric Slide was created in 1976. It is a four-wall dance set to Marcia Griffiths’ and Bunny Wailer’s song “Electric Boogie.” A four-wall dance is a set of movements that will turn you to face all four walls of the room while you complete the full cycle of the dance move.

Now is a good time to take a break from what you are doing as you safely separate and learn the dance below. If you have a radio, a smartphone, or a TV that plays music, turn them on and let’s get started. Even reading these steps out loud to your own beat works too!

 

Step-by-step Electric Slide Dance Instructions for Beginners

Step 1: 4 Side Steps to the Right

Take four side steps to your right, beginning with your right foot: step right, left together; step right, left together.

Step 2: 4 Side Steps to the Left

Take four side steps to your left, beginning with your left foot: step left, right together; step left, right together.

Step 3: 2 Steps to the Back

Take two steps to the back (remain facing forward), beginning with your right foot: back right, left together.

Step 4: 3 Step-touch

Step back onto your right foot. Tap your left foot in place.

Step forward onto your left foot. Tap your right foot in place behind you.

Step back onto your right foot. Tap your left foot in front of you.

 


Free

Written by Dr. Lolo Al-uqdah

To be free is to be like the wind and the breeze among the trees
To be free is to be like the waves in the sea
To be free is to live in the space between you and me like our shared humanity
To be free is to choose kind words and deeds and live with dignity
To be free is to choose to be me
Are you free?


Activities, Games, and More

Each issue of the Creative Corner newsletter includes stress-free activities to engage readers during their period of safe separation.  This month’s issue also includes summer gardening tips, “mindfulness corner,” a delicious “taste of home” pot roast recipe, tips on how to write an elegy and a sonnet, 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 COVID-19 story to tell or motivational message you want to share with our readers? We want to hear it!

Share your artwork with us

Would you like to express your creative 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.

Share your poetry with us

Do you have original poems you’d like to share? Send them our way!

Share your recipes with us

Want to share a simple recipe that reminds you of home? We’d love to hear from you!


July 2021
Vol. 1, No. 2

School in a New Country During the COVID-19 Lockdown

Written by Mayisha Rahman | Illustrated by Ginny Robison

Born and raised in Dhaka, Bangladesh, I made my school my home when I came here for college. Unfortunately, that meant not being able to go back to my family when the lockdown for COVID-19 began in March 2020.

Having to stay on campus extensively resulted in feelings of isolation and disconnectedness with my peers, my family, and the world beyond my little campus. I was however lucky enough to be part of my school’s student government last year. Having realized that many others felt the same way, I was able to work with my school’s Health and Wellness Center to co-create a pilot program titled “Peer Health and Wellness Educators” (PHWEs).

The goal of the program was to increase our sense of community by making conversations regarding student health and wellness commonplace and well-known. If I say that developing the program was an easy task, I would not be doing justice to the hours of work and planning that my cohead and I have put into it. Our most recent programming featured Yolo Akili, a community organizer who spoke to my campus about community care and healing justice.

I might have graduated last month, but I am hopeful that this program will continue to have a positive impact on the lives of all students, faculty, and staff thanks to the mindful work of our PHWEs, our coheads and the Health and Wellness Center in a post-pandemic world!


Creative Self-Expression

Written by Zenia Lauw

   

Finding ways to creatively express yourself during stressful times like the COVID-19 pandemic is important for self-care. Safely separating at home allows for time to reflect and take a moment to breathe. During your time separating, try a new form of self-expression to manage stress.

Expressing yourself through creativity may help improve your mood, build your self-esteem, and can be used to communicate challenging feelings.

“But I’m Not Creative”

You don’t have to be an artist to be creative. After all, this is creative “self” expression. You have full control on how to use the materials you already have at home or where you are staying to safely separate. All you need is a creative space to start your project. Creativity is a process and it is entirely up to you whether or not you ever finish your work. Free your mind and let the creativity overcome you. This will allow you to express yourself fully.

Create

  • Make art by cutting pictures from magazines, newspapers, etc.
  • Challenge yourself by drawing with your non-dominant hand.
  • Write a poem or short story about yourself, a COVID experience, current mood, etc. and submit them online.
  • Decorate the outside of your mask.

Get Moving

  • Practice yoga; create your own flow that works for you.
  • Dance to your favorite music.

Try New Things

  • Crochet, sew, or knit
  • Create an image only using calming colors.
  • DIY music instruments and make some noise.
  • Redecorate your space.

Reflect

  • Start a journal.
  • Create an appreciation collage or drawing of your loved ones.
  • Make a collage of your experiences with social distancing.
  • Take photos and edit or change them to reflect the mood of the image.

Connect

  • Create a family tree with your loved ones.
  • Make collaborative art with your loved ones.
  • Create and send postcards to friends and family that you cannot see in person.
  • Create art on a virtual chat with friends.

Submit your artwork/creative expression project online. Selected submissions will be featured in an upcoming edition of the BBP Creative Corner Newsletter.


Start Your Day with a Mindful Breathing Technique

Note: If you are having issues with breathing due to COVID-19, please refrain  from this activity until you are feeling better.

After waking up in the morning, try starting your day with a mindful breathing technique. This is a technique where you focus your attention on breathing without changing it. Focusing your attention only on your breathing can sometimes be hard to do as your mind will think of other things on its own – that’s okay.

The more you practice and get used to bringing your mind back to your breathing, the more you will be able to experience the connection and calmness to the present moment.

Three Senses Mindfulness Activity

Take notice of what you are experiencing in this moment through your three senses – sound, sight, touch.

Take a few slow breaths and ask yourself:

  • What are three things I can hear?
  • What are three things I can see?
  • What are three things I can feel?

Wiggle and Freeze Activity

This activity is good if you are alone or if you are safely separating with your family. This can be a game where you bounce around, dance, or wiggle until someone (or yourself) says freeze!

Once everyone is still, take a second to notice what you are all feeling in your bodies. Maybe it’s heat, shaking, tingling, or even buzzing. This is a fun and easy way to move around and to become aware of different body sensations which is a part of practicing mindfulness.

Affirmation Statements

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

Try saying these affirmations to yourself:

  • I am good and getting better.
  • I am allowed to feel good.
  • I appreciate what my body can do.
  • My life is not a race or competition.
  • 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 safe separation.  This month’s issue also includes two delicious “taste of home” recipes, tips on how to write an ode and create an acrostic, and a variety of word games, sudokus, and other puzzles.

Download all this and more in the latest issue.

   
Artwork by Linda Higgins

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 COVID-19 story to tell or motivational message you want to share with our readers? We want to hear it!

Share your artwork with us

Would you like to express your creative 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.

Share your poetry with us

Do you have original poems you’d like to share? Send them our way!

Share your recipes with us

Want to share a simple recipe that reminds you of home? We’d love to hear from you!

 


June 2021
Vol. 1, No. 1

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.