Sowing Seeds Can Heal Bodies
Release Date: 12/16/2009
If you find gardening therapeutic, you’ll understand why the Alberta Children’s Hospital looked to Agrium to help it launch a Horticultural Therapy program in Calgary.
Horticultural Therapy uses gardening, plants, and nature-related activities to help patients recover and achieve their rehabilitation goals. Gardening is not only a physical activity; it also contributes to a patient’s mental and emotional well-being and provides opportunities for social interaction. Programming takes children who are able outside to design gardens and get their hands in the soil. Becky Feasby, a Horticultural Therapist supported by Agrium said, “The program is about using the therapeutic benefits of gardening and related activities to provide a welcome distraction from hospitalization. Horticulture also provides a very effective medium for helping children achieve their therapeutic and rehabilitation goals while at the hospital.”
A large part of the Horticultural Therapy program includes garden design. The “Healing Gardens” at the Alberta Children’s Hospital has many garden areas for children to work in and design. Several longer-term patients have been able to design a garden and see it through to implementation. Feasby says, “It’s about giving children an opportunity to leave their mark on the site. It’s a legacy. When they‘re grown up and bring their own children back, they can say, ‘I built this garden when I was a patient here.’” Agrium is working to complement this feature by creating a virtual garden activity centre that will allow children to work individually or in small groups to plan their gardens and learn more about individual plants. This centre will rely on a touch screen that allows children to choose their plants and accessories, and a covered area that will simulate changes in weather and season. The donation of this garden design tool will tie in with other hands-on educational activities Agrium has developed for youth including exhibit features in Seed Survivor and now Caring for our Watersheds. It may be retrofitted for use in our traveling exhibits, or for the Calgary Zoo’s Schoolyard Naturalization Program, which Agrium also supports.
“We are very grateful for Agrium’s generous support of our horticultural therapy program at the Alberta Children’s Hospital – this program will make a difference in the lives of patients at the hospital for many years to come,” says Sade Nasser, Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation.
Agrium will support the Horticultural Therapy program in Calgary for five years. The garden design tool is expected to be in use in the summer of 2010 when a more formal launch is planned. The Alberta Children’s Hospital sees 76,000 children and families each year.