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Nature as therapy

If you're anything like me, you know the good stuff that will make your life better, but struggle to consistently add them into your life. The irony is not lost on me that I was once a teen who couldn't abide being told what to do, and am now an adult who wishes I had a benevolent but unyielding minder who would hand me my drink bottle and command: "drink" or take the phone from my hands and guide me by my shoulders to the rug and order: "stretch." Thankfully we have benevolent support by way of a wonderful project led by Sandra Groves and Charles Barrie. As we head into summer, the new year brings with it time to prioritise our wellbeing and implement positive habits. So it couldn't be more timely that a collective of local wellness and environmental champions have put together a resource that helps us get out onto our local tracks and soak up that natural good stuff. Charles Barrie writes about this choice new resource. Pick up or download a copy and we'll see you out on the trails! -- Sarah Pocock


Ways to Wellness - Tairāwhiti | He Ara Taiao ki te Ora - Tairāwhiti guide available now


For many of us who call Te Tairāwhiti home, the rugged beauty of our local environment is a big part of the appeal, and likely part of our own way to wellbeing.


Building on the understanding that connection with nature, whether alone or with others, supports mental, physical and spiritual wellness, a network of Tairawhiti environmental and health organisations have worked together to release a new health promotion resource Ways to Wellness  - He Ara Taiao ki te Ora, Tairāwhiti.


The guide is intended to be accessible and available to the general public, and also distributed by health and disability support sector staff to clients and whānau who could benefit from restorative or active time in nature as part of a ‘green prescription’.


Ways to Wellness - He Ara Taiao ki te Ora identifies a range of suggestions and ideas for healthy outside activity and deepening your connection with nature, including lots of family-friendly and wheelchair accessible options. In addition to information about volunteering, how to access all-terrain wheelchairs and ways you can get started with learning more about the histories of the whenua around us, the guide also contains information about a range of short walks and what you can expect to find there so you can plan your trip. 


Regarding volunteering, the guide suggests that for the socially minded, or those who want to get out and about with others, getting involved in a local environmental project is a great option. It also identifies opportunities to support others to engage with nature, who might be less able or otherwise find it difficult to do so on their own. For example through loaning one of the previously mentioned all-terrain wheelchairs available in our community, guiding them on a local walk, or supporting them to take part in a volunteering event.


Finding its origin a number of years ago in a (now concluded) Department of Conservation programme called Healthy Nature Healthy People, the guide was developed by a collaborative team from the Tairāwhiti health, environment, recreation, volunteering, disability, whanau wellbeing and community development sectors including Sports Gisborne Tairāwhiti, Parafed Tairāwhiti, Strive Rehab, Tairawhiti Environment Centre and others. Supported by kaumatua, tangata whenua health providers and medical professionals the project was coordinated by Sandra Groves (First Chapter) and Charles Barrie (Taiao Huru Huri).


You can find more about this project and the team that worked on it here.


With summer approaching, people can start their Ways to Wellness journey by picking up or downloading a copy of the guide. 


The guide will be distributed by doctors, mental health advocates, disability sector staff, and partner organisations. It is also available from the Department of Conservation, Tairawhiti Environment Centre, Sports Gisborne Tairawhiti, Gisborne Volunteer Centre, Gizzy Local's HQ (64 Lowe St.) and online here.

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