Therapy Program Development
Horticultural therapy programs should use a simple approach but also be engaging.
Generally you do not need to include lots of scientific learning material – the approach is generally ‘hands-on’ with guided delivery. As with any course delivery you need a ‘lesson plan’ – this should include simple step by step methods you will use to teach your participants new skills. Each activity or ‘lesson’ should be tailored to suit the participants’ physical and mental abilities.
A plan could very simple; (Potting up seedlings) for example:
- Give the participants tactile experience with plants textures and aromas, handing soils
- Engender a sense of responsibility – caring and nurturing the plants
- Engender a sense of achievement – watching plants grow, blossom and fruit
Materials and equipment needed:
- Bench (in open well-ventilated area)
- Watering cans
Potting media – plus container to keep it in.
- Gloves for participants (for potting one thin rubber gloves are best)
Extra requirements would need to be ascertained according to the participant’s needs. For example it might include:
- Benches at certain height to accommodate wheel chairs
- Easy access for wheel chairs
- Secured environment for participants that need extra supervision (wandering off or gaining access onto busy roads for example).
- Gather materials and equipment
- Use a simple approach to advise participants of why you need to wear gloves and be in a well-ventilated environment when handling potting mixes
- Place potting mix on benches (this could be done by participants depending on ability and mobility)
- Each participant should have a tray of seedlings plus pots – have them half fill the pots with the media
- Demonstrate how to carefully separate seedlings from the communal trays without damaging roots
- Explain why you need to be careful – damage, transplant shock etc.
- Demonstrate how to hold the seedlings (carefully by the leaves not the stems)
- Place the seedling centrally into the mix and fill with the media on the bench
- Gently firm in seedlings and place the pot into a tray. Repeat with all the seedlings
- Water seedling – demonstrate how to do this gently so as not to disturb the potted seedling
- Place seedling in sheltered warm environment – explain why this is done.
Other similar simple activities could include bulbs, planting into open ground, planting directly into raised beds, sowing seeds and so on.
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