Flower Power

Gardening has long been a popular way for many people to relax and ease the stresses of the day, but did you know it has even more benefits for people who are physically or mentally disabled? Meet a woman who found flowers can help where words can’t.

Picking flowers is a sure way to brighten Heather’s day. As an infant, Heather had kidney cancer. A chemotherapy overdose left her with a brain injury. Now horticultural therapy helps her enjoy life. “It makes me feel very good,” Heather says.

Every other week she joins other participants with brain injuries in this garden. Nancy runs the program. While gardening’s therapeutic roots go back to ancient times, Nancy says it was first used in this country for veterans returning home from war. “It’s very life-affirming, and I think that’s what gardens did for those folks and continues to do.”

This former clinical social worker, Nancy says plants work when words aren’t enough. She uses the therapy to treat people with developmental disabilities, Alzheimer’s disease, depression and drug addiction, but says anyone can benefit. “Just connecting with nature is so important for the soul and healing.” And science supports it. “There is a bit, but not enough”.

Gardening is also a great method for physical therapy since it works large and small muscles as well as motor skills.

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