DENVER (AP) – During the pandemic, many seniors were isolated from their loved ones and flooded with dire news that their peers were dying disproportionately from the coronavirus.

When the mood subsided, the director of a Colorado nonprofit dedicated to changing attitudes about aging came up with an idea: birthday cards featuring unique artwork and messages that challenged the notion that getting older is all about decline, depression and addiction goes.

(Photo credit: Adriana Luna)

The organization selected 22 artists out of 60 who competed to create colorful, inspirational cards with positive messages that they hope will brighten the day for some seniors when the cards land in their mailboxes, said Janine Vanderburg, Director of the nonprofit Changing the Narrative which started in 2018. Cards are now on sale.

Vanderburg said the proceeds will be used to pay artists for future Christmas card designs already requested and to continue the nonprofit’s efforts to educate the public about ageism.

“There is so much ageism internalized that people have accepted these messages that getting older is terrible,” said Vanderburg, 67.

Vanderburg said she was surprised at the variety of submissions but shared many common themes such as wisdom, adventure and gratitude for another day, which she said was “particularly resonant at the moment” with global bans and staggering deaths from the pandemic .

There have been more than 280,000 deaths of people over the age of 65 from the coronavirus in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Many of the maps use natural landscapes and vivid colors. One of them shows a painting of a man on a mountain at sunset with the message: “Every year is a victory. Happy Birthday!”

(Photo credit: Arlette Lucreo)

Another shows a gray-haired woman taking care of sunflowers with mountains as a background, next to the message: “If experience is the currency of life, wisdom is wealth.”

Cards are available online for $ 6 each and can be purchased at Hope Tank, a downtown Denver gift shop that is temporarily closed for personal sales due to the coronavirus.

One of the artists, Eloisa Lynch-Rocha, a Denver middle school art teacher, said her 73-year-old mother inspires her art. Lynch-Rocha’s birthday card illustration is a surreal scene in which a hand eats popcorn from a hot air balloon holder against the backdrop of a curtain stage.

Lynch-Rocha said she was starting to notice that her co-workers are much younger than her, and instead of feeling threatened, she chose to use things like creating positive birthday cards to make older people feel like something To be special.

“It’s good to get older. Especially with everything that’s happening, you know, ”she said. “Not everyone is going to be in their forties and fifties and sixties and so on and so on and so it’s a beautiful thing.”

BY PATTY NIEBERG

(© Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)