Category Archives: green health

New Research shows no link between mercury exposure and autism

fishing is an important industry and a primary source of nutrition

Fishing is an important industry and a primary source of nutrition

The potential impact of exposure to low levels of mercury on the developing brain — specifically by women consuming fish during pregnancy — has long been the source of concern and some have argued that the chemical may be responsible for behavioral disorders such as autism. Read More »

Scouts day out at the Sanctuary and Heritage Garden

On Friday 24 a group of scouts visited the wetland, Sanctuary at Roche Caiman, and Heritage Garden courtesy of the scout movement and as part of a scout camp for the August holidays.

Every school holiday, the  Seychelles Scouts Association prepares a special programme for children, which involves both scouts and children from the community. The programme is designed to get children off the streets during the school holidays to come together for five days of learning, fellowship and adventure. As part of their five-day activities they participated in Nature Seychelles programmes that use nature therapy on this Friday afternoon. 10 scouts, 4 leaders and 39 children who are not scouts participated. Robin (the green health coordinator) Martin, our community coordinator and Lucina (at the Heritage Garden) planned and carried out all the activities which involved working in the garden and sanctuary and green exercise.

Fun and games  in the outdoors are the basis for green exercise

Activities included stripping the backs off of Cassuarina poles to be used in the Sanctuary for the bird hide, and learning how to pot seedlings and turn over compost  in the garden. Robin even had some of the children moving frog tadpoles, which had made a home in holes dug up for plants, to the safety of the Sanctuary’s ponds. This had the children knee deep in mud and screeching in delight.

Mud is fun!

In the garden, they learnt the names and uses of all the plants. It was amazing to see how much they already knew about some of the local plants particularly spices like Cinnamon and Curry leaf and fruit trees like Soursop, Sugar apple, Star fruit and Golden apple.

Learning how to pot seedlings

Katherine, a volunteer who teaches exercises, introduced some green exercise in one of the clearings in the Sanctuary. Children and leaders all participated and she even had the children devising their own games. It was a Friday afternoon well spent for both visitors and staff.

Social Conscience: Nature Seychelles wins Educational Entrepreneurship award

The award was won for the Green Health Programme

About 15 years ago I found a book in my fathers huge library. It was called  “Voluntary Action” by a man called Beveridge and was published way back in 1948.  He launched a visionary mission that  changed  the world  because he saw  voluntary action as “private enterprise, not in business, but in the service of mankind, not for gain but under the driving power of social conscience

Three aspects of this struck me then and drove me to work for NGOs (non-governmental organizations) on a full basis:  Social power: the ability to change things in ways small and large which NGOs embody. Social conscience: the sense of responsibility for right and wrong in our society. Social Entrepreneurship: the establishment of business principles in civil society organizations but not for-personal gain.

The difference today compared to 1948 is that heroic leaders of NGOs no longer    seem to be swimming against the tide of history as Beveridge saw it. The ‘driving power of social conscience’ is once again I think at the heart of our society. And what is termed as social entrepreneurship is the engine of this social conscience ensuring that we are not only dealing in words but also action in a sustainable and long term manner.

The award that Nature Seychelles has recently won embodies the spirit of social entrepreneurship – not for personal profit but for the direct benefit of the society. Nature Seychelles has been recognized as the organization with the most entrepreneurial approach to education in Seychelles in 2011 winning the country award for the Educating Africa Pan-African Awards for Entrepreneurship in Education for 2011.

Over 350 entries from all over Africa were received by the organizers, Educating Africa and Teach a Man to Fish. This unique competition identifies and celebrates the achievements of social entrepreneurs who understand the role education can play within their communities. Nature Seychelles was invited to enter its Green Health Programme, which teaches people to connect with nature through wellness and healthy lifestyles in natural surroundings. The same programme won the International Innovation Prize from the World Leisure Organization not too long ago.

I believe that the best way to promote protection of the environment is to get people to value nature. I have been involved in implementing environmental programs that provide values of one kind or another to various groups over the years. Recently we have focused on linking nature to people’s physical and mental well being. Once again we have won an international award for these efforts.

Nirmal Shah

This post first appeared in the author’s column in The People

 

A natural solution to society’s problems

Children from the President's village at the Heritage Garden

Children from the President's village at the Heritage Garden

Children love being outdoors. Playing is great and is a chance to explore outside of the boundaries of the home. Not only is it fun for the kids, it’s good for them too. Scientists have discovered that children function better cognitively and emotionally in ‘green environments’, that is places with nature vegetation, than those without.  No wonder that a study of urban children discovered that 96% of them illustrated outdoor places when asked to make a map or drawing of all their favourite place.

Conversely, a lack of routine contact with nature can be detrimental to children’s health and may result in stunted academic and developmental growth. This condition has been termed Nature Deficit Disorder by author Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods. Louv says we have entered a new era of city- centred life that restricts outdoor play, in conjunction with a plugged-in culture that draws kids indoors. But, Louv argues that, the agrarian, nature-oriented existence hard-wired into human brains isn’t quite ready for the overstimulating environment we’ve carved out for ourselves. Some children adapt, but those who don’t develop symptoms including attention problems, obesity, anxiety, and depression.

Nature Seychelles’ Sanctuary at Roche Caiman is a great local green space which we use to tackle this problem head-on. Many children have visited and enjoyed the benefits of being outdoors. The most recent was a group of twenty-five children from the Presidents Village who were brought by local company Applebys Corporate Service Limited to enjoy a taste nature last weekend.

The children were taken on a tour of the nature reserve by Martin Varley, Community and Stakeholder Action Co-ordinator, where they had chance to watch wildlife at first hand and also take part in some fun games with strong environmental messages. They were also taken round the adjacent Heritage Garden which showcases a diverse range of traditionally grown Seychelles fruit, vegetables and medicinal herbs.

The experience on the reserve formed the basis of the second part of the visit which was led by Green Health Co-ordinator Robin Hanson, who used the animals on the reserve as a platform for a special natural exercise class for the children, another form of recreation with proven health and wellbeing benefits. The weather stayed kind and at the end of the morning the children were buzzing with excitement about their visit.

“We all know how good it is to be outside,” said Nature Seychelles CEO Nirmal Shah, “Kids are healthier and happier and with a good dose of exercise they can be stronger too. It’s great to be able to work with a local company like Appleby’s to provide a break for these kids from the President’s Village and show then what we have here at Roche Caiman. Everyone is a winner”.

We may not be able to prevent our children from suffering the impacts of our changing society, but it’s good to know that the remedy is close at hand.

This post first appeared in the Today in Seychelles newspaper.

Green health: reconnecting people with nature

Saturday July 2, 2011 marked another exciting milestone  for Nature Seychelles –  the official launching of Green Health Seychelles – our new and innovative programme. Attended by a cross section of Seychellois, residents, members and friends of Nature Seychelles, the launch held at the Sanctuary at Roche Caiman, introduced to the public the green health concept that uses nature to improve health.

Here is a slide show of the days events:

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube DirektGreen Health Seychelles Launch

A full story on the launch is on our website.

Nature Explorers brings benefits to Children

When Robin Hanson is teaching the Nature Explorers class at Nature Seychelles it sounds exactly like what it is – children having fun. Who wouldn’t have fun jumping like a frog, standing like a tree, and balancing like a heron? Or walking on a fallen tree and listening to the sounds of nature? But apart from having fun the children are exploring their bodies and their minds while cultivating an empathy for nature.

Nature Explorers is part of the Nature Seychelles’ Green Health programme, which is combining yoga and fitness in natural surroundings with activities that help the environment.  Robin, a yoga teacher and conservationist started the programme mid-last year. And now he has began running a dynamic programme for children combining yoga, general fitness and self-discovery.

Classes increase flexibility, strength, discipline, confidence, general positivity and calmness. They encourage children to be ready to learn, create, and develop. “The children are of course having fun. But the core is education,” says Robin. “Children are generally more willing to learn. Adults you have to persuade to do handstands – children have to be persuaded to do the warm up first,” he quips.

A typical class allows for exploration and using one’s imagination. Everything is exercised – from eyes to arms and legs. And classes are non-competitive: every child works at the level they find themselves in. This builds self-esteem and confidence.

the props...

the props...

The setting of Nature Explorers classes within the Sanctuary at Roche Caiman helps in the discovery of nature and various natural materials lend themselves as ready tools to be used for classes. Robin has fashioned pieces of wood as balance beams, stepping stones, toad tokens, basically anything he and mainly the children can imagine to use them for to exercise and have fun. Learning the animal poses, where they live, how they move, how they live together also educates children about nature. Learning the other nature poses such as mountain increases awareness and appreciation of the wonderful healing world around us.

Nature Seychelles will soon be expanding this programme to include children from vulnerable environments.

Check out Robin’s  blog here: http://greenhealthseychelles.wordpress.com/