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Wild Things charity runs Silver Saplings environmental awareness programme at Cathay Care Home


By Garry McCartney

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Residents sitting around the fire before toasting their marshmallows.
Residents sitting around the fire before toasting their marshmallows.

RETIREMENT home residents have been reconnecting with nature thanks to a local wildlife charity.

Findhorn-based environmentalists Wild Things have just completed a six-week ‘Silver Saplings’ programme at Cathay Care Home focused on themes including birds, mammals, and plants to promote cognitive, physical and mental health through socialising and crafts.

Etta Alexander making a leaf print with the help of Jack Farge from Wild Things.
Etta Alexander making a leaf print with the help of Jack Farge from Wild Things.

Wild Things development officer Elizabeth Knock confirmed the Wednesday afternoon sessions were designed to inspire and reconnect participants with the wonders of the natural world found on our doorstep.

She said: “The participants fully bought into the sessions. It was a pleasure to deliver the activities and get to know them, care home staff, their stories, and the breadth of knowledge they have regarding local natural history.”

Diaries were issued to record information about, and pictures of, what they saw.

Estelle Mcphail studying the different colours of the leaves on a branch.
Estelle Mcphail studying the different colours of the leaves on a branch.

Cathay manager Julie Stringfellow was thrilled to see the residents enjoying the project in the garden or the activity room when the weather was poor.

She said: “Outside activities make everyone feel happier and healthy including older people living in a care home environment. This project gave them great enjoyment. Even residents who don’t always join in with activities got involved and retained concentration for entire sessions. It was also great to have family members attend to work with their loved ones on the project.”

Jimmy Anderson examining utensils that can be made with alongside activities Shannen Rae.
Jimmy Anderson examining utensils that can be made with alongside activities Shannen Rae.

She added: “Residents made bird feeders and boxes, and looked at the different kinds of birds we have in the area.

“They enjoyed sitting around the fire pit and toasting marshmallows. Using hammers to make things was also enjoyable.”

Etta Alexander enjoying a toasted marshmallow.
Etta Alexander enjoying a toasted marshmallow.

The Silver Saplings project involves school pupils as well as adults. Activities also include: taking older people on day trips to places of natural beauty and ecological interest; engaging children, teenagers and adults with outdoor health and wellbeing activities; and developing accredited outdoor leadership training designed to help unpaid and professional carers do more with loved ones and clients outdoors. Wild Things have worked with Forres Academy on an eight week programme and have a regular group of older people from Findhorn, Forres and Hopeman attend Silver Saplings Adventures - day trips into the great outdoors for over-60’s.

The scheme has a full schedule across Moray, the Highlands and Aberdeenshire for the next year.

See https://wild-things.org.uk/our-events/silver-saplings/ for more information.



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