An anonymous group is leaving sweet, hand-written notes around Toronto to lift people's spirits
via Greetings Toronto / Instagram

After a year of living through a pandemic, everyone could use a little more positive energy to propel them towards the bright light at the end of the covid-19 tunnel. The good news is that folks in Toronto are having their spirits lifted after finding positive, hand-written signs placed around the city.

An anonymous group of friends known as Greetings Toronto has been placing notes in random places thought the city with sayings such as "Hey you, I hope you have an amazing day," "It's okay not to be okay," and "You are the universe experiencing itself."

The notes are being left in high-traffic areas such as Queen's Quay along Harbourfront and the University of Toronto campus. They appear in busy areas as well as quiet areas such as park benches and bus stops.




"The idea is that we want to spread love with anyone and everyone in the city. So whether you're on a busy road commuting to work or you're simply looking for some peace and quiet in a park, we hope that you'll come across our messages and feel uplifted either way," the anonymous founder told blogTO.

The idea came to its anonymous founder after she was inspired by a positive affirmation she saw posted on social media.

"I was going through a bit of a rough patch during the pandemic where my mental health took a decline and my days began feeling dull," she said.

"While scrolling through social media one day, I came across a post that spoke about the benefits that positive affirmations can have on your mindset," she continued. "I decided to give it a try, and as I began practicing saying kind and positive things to myself, I noticed instant changes in my overall mood."

So she asked two childhood friends to join the campaign and Greetings Toronto was born.

The notes have the campaign's Instagram handle written on them encouraging people who find them to tag Greetings Toronto in their posts.


The founder says a tourist from Brazil who was having a hard time found a note and it really made her day. "I hope that people's days are instantly brightened when they see our notes and hope that they may even feel inspired to pay such kindness forward, making the world a better place!" she said.

Running across a positive note is bound to put a smile on one's face, but the effects of positive affirmations can go much deeper than that. Research shows that positive affirmations — when practiced on a regular basis — are like a healthy form of brainwashing. The more you repeat self-affirming statements, the more your brain accepts them as part of your self-concept.

Research shows that repeating positive affirmations can decrease health-deteriorating stress, improve academic achievement, bolster feelings of self-worth, and help people respond more constructively to threats.

The founder hopes her campaign will help keep people's spirits up in the final stretch of a long, arduous journey.

"It is important that now, more than ever, we remind each other that better days are ahead and to keep the faith while we get through this," she said.



Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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