In April, as the flowers and trees were beginning to bloom, an important collaboration with partners like Gifts of Light (GOL) and Root In Nature was also blossoming in the Forensic Program across multiple units.
Recognizing the mental health benefits of being outdoors and gardening, Recreation and Behavioral therapists from across CAMH Forensic units spearheaded work to put together a compelling Comfort Fund grant application through Gifts of Light to fund the construction of several community gardens for Forensic patients. This grant is designed to fund projects related to the care and comfort of patients and is focused on delivering meaningful experiences and practical gifts.
Once the grant was approved, the team in Tower 3 was able to offer a creative gardening pilot program in partnership with Root In Nature, a nature-based program that provides an immersive gardening experience to support patients through their recovery.
Thanks to the generous contributions from GOL, several gardens were built in different areas of the Forensic Program, including in the courtyards outside of both Tower 1 and Tower 3.
“In Tower 1 alone, we have Unit 1-2, Unit 1-3, Unit 1-4, and Unit 1-5 all participating and maintaining the garden. Unit 1-2 and Unit 1-4 Recreation Therapists along with the Behavioural Therapist in Unit 1-4 assisted in the development and execution of this very successful program,” explained Kelciya Norbert, Recreation Therapist, Unit 1-2. “Our sensory gardens are filled with herbs like mint, thyme, lavender and basil and, in the larger part of the garden we have different vegetables growing like tomatoes, beans, jalapeno peppers, chilli peppers, green peppers, eggplant, watermelon and cantaloupe.”