Children with a special needs are taking to the outdoors to help boost physical and mental well-being.
Horticulture might not seem like the ideal hobby for a teenage boy, but for 16-year-old Angus Boyd-Smith, gardening has become more of a life-saver than a hobby.
The Berkshire-based gardening sessions are run weekly by charity ‘Thrive’ and have offered Angus, who has Down’s syndrome, a new lease of life.
His mother Kim said: “Before the therapy, Angus struggled to concentrate in class; there were some days he didn’t want to go to school. Now he can’t wait. He is happy, enthusiastic, and has something to focus on. We can see Angus working in a garden centre or an allotment in years to come. This has given him a future.”
Research into horticultural therapy has shown that gardening in the outdoors does improve physical and mental well-being, and is frequently used to help war veterans cope with mental health problems.
Hundreds of children across the UK who have special needs are now benefiting from the therapy, which teaches them a large range of skills from communication to responsibility.
Gardening can help young people develop a sense of purpose and satisfaction. It gives them the opportunity to watch a seed become a plant as a direct result of their own hard work and care.
A study conducted by the Royal Horticultural Society found that 84% of young people responded positively to being outdoors.
Natasha Etherington, a horticultural therapist and author of a new book about gardening for children with special needs, believes that the school environment will change before long to incorporate the outdoors as a way of helping children with special needs develop both physically and mentally.
To find out more about the therapeutic effects of the outdoors, please visit our page about Naturopathy.
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