Tag Archives: plants

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.

Heritage Garden: Sharing nature and its healing power

Yesterday, we had the pleasure of showing visitors from the Regional Home for the Elderly at North East Point, Mahe, around the Heritage Garden next to our centre at Roche Caiman.

The home is a residential facility that provides care for the elderly. Caregivers at the home engage the residents in a number of therapeutic activities. One of them is gardening. They say gardening provides much needed relaxation and improves physical and mental health.

The home has therefore been very interested in our garden and plans are underway to help them create their own. The visitors engaged Lucina, our plant expert, in a steady stream of dialogue, asking about the benefits of various plants. Yesterday’s visit helped to identify different plants they would like to have.

Lucina told me later that one of the objectives of the garden is to rescue plants grown by older generations of Seychellois and use them once again in traditional ways. Many Seychellois have grown up around gardens. What a pleasure then it was to re-connect gardening with some of its friends.

About the Heritage Garden:

This demonstration Heritage Garden© at Roche Caiman has been designed by Nature Seychelles as a model to be replicated by Wildlife Clubs in schools and by the community at home. Not only do we collect plant species that are richly filled with historical value for propagation in the school- based clubs as well as to the adjoining communities, we also collect and collate their stories. We promote the use and value-adding of plants through exhibitions and learning programs. We encourage young volunteers to work with us in this Garden to gain skills and knowledge. We open up this Garden to the public to enthuse and excite people.

Catch anything that’s flying

Tuesday 24 June 2009. It’s a lazy sunny afternoon.

But its also another day of learning at the Sanctuary at Roche Caiman, the only urban wetland reserve in Seychelles. In 2002, the Government of Seychelles handed over the management of the sanctuary to Nature Seychelles and the Wildlife Clubs of Seychelles.

The International School of Seychelles’ A level class is here for a science class. At the Sanctuary, you can learn and teach anything. Brenda Adnimignon, a Lecturer at the National Institute of Education explained it to me in this way when she brought out a class of trainee English teachers: Take a pond, imagine a teacher reading a story about a pond to her class. It’s all on paper. Then imagine her showing them pond life. The lesson comes alive. And when the children go back and write about it, they improve both their knowledge and English. (And they get an afternoon out of class).

science class

The Sanctuary has become very popular for this type of learning. And Terence, our Education Coordinator loves to host these classes. But, apart from learning, the students are also helping us assemble data on the Sanctuary, always useful for monitoring.

Oh. “Catch anything that’s flying” is the instruction the science students got from their teacher. Maybe if school had been this interesting….

Read more about the Sanctuary at Roche Caiman here