Written by Katie Pond, WCA Client Advocate and Case Manager Intern
The garden has long been recognized as a place of healing. Backyard gardeners and horticultural therapists alike can attest to the healthful benefits of getting hands dirty to help new life grow. The Women’s and Children’s Alliance will reawaken the soil at our shelter’s garden as part of an opportunity aimed at improving the holistic health of women and children at the shelter. With construction for the new transitional housing facility underway this spring and summer, the garden project will take root in the spring of 2017.
The WCA hopes the garden will offer practical solutions for common challenges, as well as a soothing, experiential classroom to supplement existing curriculum for our clients. Shelter residents currently receive classes that address nutrition, self-care, and sleep hygiene. Working in the garden will expand the knowledge the clients are gathering in their classes. Beyond educating on these issues though, the garden will make quality organic food available to a largely food-insecure population.
Research connects diet and exercise with an individual’s improved sleep habits and increased ability to combat depression and anxiety. Often, our residents suffer from depression and anxiety and struggle to sleep in an unfamiliar environment. Gardening creates gentle, on-site exercise opportunities as well as an uplifting venue for the practice of self-care for the residents. Additionally, it will provide safe social opportunities for women (many of whom have been isolated by abusers) and playful educational activities for children.
The WCA currently offers education about healthy relationships through counseling and client advocacy. The garden—a hive of dynamic, symbiotic relationships—will support that effort by offering tangible lessons on healthy relationships. Providing education compatible with many learning styles is an important accommodation, given the impact of trauma on the learning process. These small daily shifts could foster great momentum toward healing. The WCA is so excited to plant the seeds in the garden that will help our clients grow in their journey towards safety, healing and freedom.
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