A Massachusetts group is letting Mother Nature make house calls, bringing its healing power to people who don’t have opportunities to go outside.
Since 1983, Nature Connection has brought the outdoors in–conducting 15,000 presentations to hospitals, nursing homes, juvenile homes, and other places where people have no access to the natural world.
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“When they touch and hold animals like a chinchilla or hedgehog, they are like little kids again, having fun,” said NC supporter Carol Krauss. “The hope is that they make a memorable connection and open up to their peers, their caregivers, and themselves. An animal connection can have a long-lasting impact.”
At the residential Pelham Academy in Lexington, Massachusetts, where teen girls who have suffered significant trauma live, study, and work together, a presentation of live wild animals in their midst has served as a catalyst for the youth to make connections and share their feelings. The Nature Connection program has become, what the staff at Pelham calls, “critical support.”
The Nature Program also shares ideas with caregivers who deal with an aging population suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia. One such idea is the “ocean context box”. Inside are sand, pebbles, and seashell fragments. Slowly tipping the box back and forth sounds like breaking waves. Touching the items, too, has opened up patients to childhood memories of the sea.
Another context box holds containers of spices and herbs that elders can pinch, releasing aromas that often trigger family memories. Cinnamon, lavender, or cloves can be added to a small pouch that they can keep.
Executive Director Sophie Wadsworth sums it up like this, “We bring the meadow, the ocean, and the forest to offer restoration, rejuvenation, and the joy that comes with touch, smell, and sound.”
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