C.W.I.P.P.E. (Cursive Writing Intergenerational Pen Pal Exchange) connects local grade three students (who are learning cursive writing) with local seniors – as pen pals.

Sadly, many of today’s children often have difficulty reading ‘written’ correspondence – even personal notes in birthday cards. Few can write their own name, and the joy of writing a note to a beloved grandparent, acknowledging a gift or sending condolences or ‘get well’ greetings to another as they grow older is no longer a common occurrence in much of today’s world.

Instead, it’s texting, printing and communicating with emojis. Many students are unfamiliar with cursive handwriting.

I wanted to do something to help curtail or slow-down that pattern and slowly, C.W.I.P.P.E. emerged.

The first step was to find a local school open to the inclusion of cursive writing in their curriculum. Not an easy task as many schools no longer see cursive writing as a vital skill to be taught.

The next step was to locate seniors who would be cursive writing pen pals to the grade three students. Most children have never received a personal letter!

It didn’t take long for the roster to be complete! Seniors are eager to be involved because they want to make a difference in the lives of the children and don’t want the art of writing or reading letters to die with their generation.

From September to Easter, the children learn cursive writing. Each child is paired with a senior citizen. Beginning the week after Easter, the children practice their cursive writing in letters to their pen pals and the seniors write back in cursive, helping the children learn to read cursive, as well as write it. Meeting every 2-3 weeks, the seniors gather together to read and share their pen pals’ letters and then write their responses to the children.

The first letter is written by the child to their pen pal and begins “Dear friend” because they don’t know the name of their pen pal – yet.

Then, all of the letters are taken to the first meeting of the gathered seniors who write their pen pal in response and each senior signs his/her name, however they want to be known by their pen pal.

As the seniors read the children’s letters, it becomes clear that their pen pals are struggling in their writing and communication skills. This becomes an opportunity for the seniors to help the children learn to communicate using complete sentences. Following through from letter to letter, enriches the lives of both the children and the seniors – many of whom seldom hear from their grandchildren, or don’t have any grandchildren at all.

Seniors often find motivation in being a pen pal as they remember when they did lines – “lines” of “a’s” and “b’s” etc., ad nauseum in their exercise books. Some even remember writing the same sentence many times on a blackboard in detention!

Early on in the project, photographs are taken and exchanged so pen pals can visualize one another as they write their letters broadening the sense of the C.W.I.P.P.E. community. Near the end of the month of June, C.W.I.P.P.E. culminates at a party where pen pals meet in person for the first time, exchange final letters, and Certificates are presented.

An important Benjamin Franklin quote.

A lot of learning happens in C.W.I.P.P.E. beyond the writing and exchange of letters. C.W.I.P.P.E. encourages the children to keep in touch with their family members in a way that their grandparents once did, and involvement in C.W.I.P.P.E. reminds seniors of their continuing value to others.


Under the umbrella of Soulistry (which makes connections between creativity and spirituality), C.W.I.P.P.E. expresses creativity in the discovery of the written word and spirituality in the joy that comes when communicating with another at the heart-level.

For more information about C.W.I.P.P.E.
and learn how it can be set up in your community, contact:
Dr. June Maffin (Founder and Director)
2000 Deborah Place, Duncan, B.C. Canada V9L 5E6


*Kathleen Erickson, Literacy Now Cowichan Society
for sponsorship
* Pat Carter and Queen of Angels school
for teaching the children cursive writing
* Fred McGuinness and Amee Duncan of Solitaire Press
for printing expertise
*St. Peter’s Quamichan, Anglican Church
for hosting C.W.I.P.P.E. gatherings
and the C.W.I.P.P.E. children and seniors.

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