The opportunity to physically connect with nature, to manually work with soil and sow and grow plants is rarely on the agenda for students at university. The indoor environments of academia do not usually lend themselves to going down the allotment for a couple of hours. Fresh air and the glow of healthy exercise when digging in manure is not, for students, generally where you would connect them to. Perhaps a work out at the gym, some yoga, a Pilates class is what provides the physical challenge. Certainly not a session of digging.
That is unless you happen to be a student at the University of East Anglia.
Thank you to Eden on Prescription for allowing us to link to the information about the social prescribing projects going on at the Eden Project. Always exciting when a good idea becomes reality. Even more so when it's evident that it's making a difference.
"Sensing Nature" has been a two-year research project, led by Dr Sarah Bell at the University of Exeter and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. Using an in-depth qualitative approach, the project has aimed to improve the ways we understand, enable and promote more inclusive, multisensory nature experiences amongst people living with sight impairment. Sarah brings LGHN up to date with the project's progress this year.
With ongoing pressures on our health and social care systems, now is the time to recognise the powerful contribution the arts can make to our health and wellbeing. Rachel Massey, Arts & Wellbeing Coordinator at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, explains more.
Wellbeing is something that affects us all, and thanks to an influx of self-help guides, courses and retreats on offer, wellbeing has become a bit of a buzzword! The hype is justified. Every year, one in four of us will experience a mental health problem; obesity levels are on the rise; and social isolation affects many, our ageing population in particular. The time has come to recognise how important it is to look after our mental and physical health.
It was the walled garden that did it….
When Anna Baker Cresswell’s beloved Mother was living with Parkinson’s Disease during the last years of her life, Anna gave up her job in London and moved back home to Northumberland to look after her. The walled garden there gave Anna snatched half hours of calm, control and order when the rest of her life had none.
Thrive is the UK’s leading social & therapeutic horticulture charity.
Social and therapeutic horticulture is the process of using plants and gardens to improve physical and mental health, as well as communication and thinking skills. It also uses the garden as a safe and secure place to develop someone's ability to mix socially, make friends and learn practical skills that will help them to be more independent.
Using gardening tasks and the garden itself, Thrive horticultural therapists build a set of activities for each gardener to improve their particular health needs, and to work on certain goals they want to achieve.
The benefits of a sustained and active interest in gardening include:
• Better physical health through exercise and learning how to use or strengthen muscles to improve mobility
• Improved mental health through a sense of purpose and achievement
• The opportunity to connect with others – reducing feelings of isolation or exclusion
• Acquiring new skills to improve the chances of finding employment
• Just feeling better for being outside, in touch with nature and in the 'great outdoors'
Our London base is in the beautiful Battersea Park in South London. We maintain four gardens in Battersea Park where we run our therapeutic gardening sessions. Our sessions run from Monday – Friday from 10am – 3pm, structured like a working day. If you or someone you know could benefit from one of our programmes or you would like to know more, please call Ellen Hill on: 0207 720 2212
A recent article posted by the Design Council paves a way for cities that promote rather than damage our mental health.
The Lambeth GP Food Co-operative has launched a video (part funded by NHS England) featuring its work and describing its vision.
As Dr Vikesh Sharma, a GP at the Grantham Practice in Stockwell, points out in the co-operative's latest newsletter, despite the project's success, prescribing gardening is still a novel idea to many patients. The challenge for a GP practice is 'to normalise the concept'. 'People come to GP surgeries and expect to be referred down certain pathways and it requires a change of mindset to consider the gardening club a viable option.' As the video demonstrates, this change is already beginning to take place.
Hot on the heels of renewed publicity about levels of inactivity and the benefits of outdoor exercise, the first Wildfit course has been launched in Trowbridge Park, Wiltshire.
The course, which is open and free for the public to use, includes a trail to run or walk and exercise zones that target different aspects of fitness. Each piece of equipment has clear user guidance and has been designed so to be used by anybody, regardless of their level of fitness or experience.
The activity trail was designed by Phil Walker at Wildfit, himself a stroke survivor. Phil was already a qualified fitness trainer but his own experience and recovery has taught him the particular benefits of outdoor activity in the fresh air over indoor exercise:
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