Grow and Heal

Horticultural therapy has long been known to be an effective treatment method for mentally ill patients. In fact, the first garden therapy program was started in 1879 in Philadelphia. Today, these types of programs are in about 300 hospitals and are effective for children with mental and physical illnesses.

The sights and sounds are different. There are no hospital beds or doctors. However, you will find bees and butterflies in these therapy sessions.

Senior recreational therapist Dave explains, “It’s like a cocoon away from the main hospital setting.”

This horticultural therapy program allows kids of all ages and medical problems to work with nature. They touch the plants. Some even taste them. Kids regain strength by standing on their own, practice hand-eye coordination by potting plants, and find solace from nurturing seedlings.

Therapy patient, Kapeka, says, “I hated everything here, and when I found the greenhouse I was in it all the time.”

Sixteen year-old Kapeka has been here nearly four months. She was paralyzed in a car crash and lost a friend in the accident. “My friend’s mom and I are going to go to a greenhouse somewhere around here and pick out some plants to plant around her grave,” says Kapeka.

Recreational therapist Laurie says, “This is something they may do at home. It’s something they could do with friends. And it’s not putting screws on a board or lining up equipment or things that were more technical and medical in the past.”

Laurie says taking care of a plant gives them the discipline to take care of themselves better.

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