Monday, September 5, 2011

A Sensory and Therapeutic Enclave

Jo in the newly revamped relaxation corner
One rainy morning, a forlorn student was found at the Occupational Therapy Garden visiting her asparagus plant. After meeting SHS (AH) lecturer Jo Hobman at the garden, the student left much happier.  According to Jo, students tend to visit their plants “just before their exams” as it helps them to relax. The garden was set up to teach Diploma in Occupational Therapy students the positive therapeutic effects derived from growing plants, for example the rich sensory experience provided by plant texture or the smell and colour of the flowers. Gardening also provides purposeful occupation with benefits, for both physical and mental health, and enhancement of quality of life.
Cotton Plant
Jo, who visits the garden three times a day, believes in using different varieties of plants to form a talking point. Some unusual plants that can be found include peanut, cotton, coffee, and curry leaf, which visitors are encouraged to touch and smell. She avidly believes that plants can bridge the generation gap, and help people with disabilities to feel valued. Teaching her students about gardening and its benefits also encourages them to use gardening as a rehabilitation tool for appropriate patient groups.
The relaxation corner
There are over 150 varieties of potted plants neatly arranged on benches, a square fish pond lovingly adorned by imported Balinese stones, a hydroponics area, and a newly created relaxation corner in the garden. Year 2 occupational therapy students take responsibility for different parts of the garden which needs to be regularly watered and kept clean.
An array of cacti and plants
Jo herself looks out for sick plants and collects seeds from flowering plants. It is apparent she loves these plants. Jo, an occupational therapist with 20 years of teaching experience in the United Kingdom and 15 years in Singapore, also shares with us her secrets to “growing things in a hot climate.” If you have always wanted learn, do visit the garden at J519. Jo might just be around to help you get started with free gardening advice.


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