Garden Terrace environmental education program combines fun with learning

Residents are getting cognitive exercise and learning fun facts about animals and plants while being outdoors

A new program created by life enrichment co-ordinator Rachael King is teaching Garden Terrace residents about animals and plants native to North America in a fun and interactive way while providing a safe outdoor activity.

Rachael, who has a background in environmental education, launched the program in early June. There has been a lot of interest from residents at the Kanata, Ont. long-term care home since the program began.

“Residents are really enjoying it,” Rachael tells The OMNIway.

The program is similar to a scavenger hunt. Before the program begins, Rachael places animal miniatures and examples of flora with ID tags in the Garden Terrace courtyard. When residents find animals or plants, they read information sheets Rachael provides to learn about what each specimen is, its native habitat and a fun fact.

“This gets residents outside, but they are also provided with a bit of education on North American animals,” Rachael says.

“We do have some safari animals as well, but we try to stick to creatures like bears and wolves.”

Rachael says aside from the fun and education residents garner from the program, an activity like this is also a great cognitive exercise.

Due to restrictions in place to keep everyone safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, large-group programming is currently on hold in Ontario long-term care homes.

But because the environmental education program is held outdoors with social distancing measures in place, more residents can participate in the activity.

Typically, there are about 10 to 12 residents participating each time the program is held, Rachael adds.

“There are a lot of great things to explore, and this program helps with cognition, memory and reminiscing, so I thought it would be cool to bring this to Garden Terrace.”

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