Cultivating wellness: the RCH garden program

For many years, the RCH Children’s Garden was a jewel within the complex.

A mix of water features, veggie as well as ornamental gardens, and playgrounds, it was a beautiful “backyard” for families staying at the hospital.

Keen to recapture the appeal of the former garden, Dirty Hands Happy Hearts Auxiliary are funding a brand new sensory garden adjacent to the Kelpie Adolescent and Rehabilitation Ward. With a Mediterranean Courtyard theme, the garden will include an olive grove, fruit trees, a vegetable garden and ornamentals.

The aim of a sensory garden is to include a range of plants that activate all the senses: sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste.

By providing a garden that RCH patients and families can interact with, the program helps to diminish the negative effects of hospitalisation, provide supportive garden environments that encourage a feeling of normalcy, and focus on the healthy aspects of self to improve recovery.

“Many patients participating in the garden program are too sick to do much activity, but this is something they can engage in,” says Julie Robinson, Garden Program Coordinator. “We have a lot of return patients that we get to know well and they enjoy the chance to relax and be creative.”

Other Garden Program activities include mosaic tile making, terra cotta pot decorating, and terrarium and jewellery making.

The goal is to get patients into the fresh air and take their mind off of what’s happening within the hospital.

The Garden Program is a hit with parents and siblings for the exact same reasons and would not be possible without the longstanding volunteers who enable the program to flourish.

As Garden Program Patron Barbara Haynes says, “the Garden Program is a way for everyone to feel included and well-grounded. A place to be welcomed away from the clinical ‘home’ in which they find themselves.”

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