Cultivating Health and Wellbeing
15 Sep 2008
Searching for a way to support Seattle’s large mentally ill population, Vishal, with the help of three friends, has launched a community gardening project. (A Kyle Taylor Story)
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Searching for a way to support Seattle’s large mentally ill population, Vishal, with the help of three friends, has launched a community gardening project. It works closely with the neighbourhood residents of government-assisted living facilities.
The purpose is three-fold: to provide the homeless shelter residents with a garden that they can help maintain; to encourage the harvest of fresh vegetables and supplement poor diets; to increase the scenic beauty of the area, benefiting the people who are housed there, as well as the community as a whole.
The venture also runs a summertime “cookout” for residents, using harvested vegetables from the gardens and hosts seminars for students at Washington University on the issues of homelessness.
The neglect that the mentally ill often face can lead to a downward spiral in brain capacity and activity. However, the responsibility and social interaction involved in maintaining the garden, has helped these individuals make enormous improvements in terms of health and wellbeing. At the same time, Vishal has been able to expose an entire group of students to the struggles of their local community, providing not only a service initiative but a valuable learning opportunity for young people.
“By launching a venture dedicated to addressing the issue of homelessness, we hope we can do our part to make a difference in our community,” explains Vishal. Last year they set up one garden but this year they have been expanding to five other locations, engaging over a hundred local students and hundreds of community residents.
Contact: Sigma Beta Rho UW
SAO Box 40, HUB 207, UW Box 352238
Seattle, Washington 98195, USA
Left: Vishal with other key members
of his community gardening project
Photo and story: By Kyle Taylor
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