Welcome to Julia, our new intern

Tuesday, 25 June, 2019

 Hi All,

My name is Julia Glassman and I am a graduate student at the University of Michigan, US, studying Behavior, Education, and Communication within the School for Environment and Sustainability. I’m working with CSH on implementing the first indoor nature walk at Marston Court, a care home in north Oxford.

My passion for bringing nature indoors began while studying Aging Studies at Ithaca College and taking courses on the environment. Many of my Aging Studies classes promoted ways to live a long and healthy life, a message that seemed closely aligned with lessons I was hearing in my environment classes. It seemed evident to me that the Environment and Aging fields should be combined; What do we all have in common? Aging. What do we also all have in common? The Earth. The environments that we are exposed to strongly impact how we age.

Over the course of my four years at Ithaca College, I spent a lot of time volunteering at Longview, an assisted living community in Ithaca. During that time, I realized that due to a variety of restrictions, older adults often do not go outdoors. While we need to do everything we can to encourage outdoor visits, if one is ill, has a disability, staff aren’t readily available, or the weather is simply not great, sometimes it’s just not possible. I realized, if I could simulate nature indoors, perhaps it would bring similar therapeutic benefits of being in the outdoors. The hope of the indoor nature walk is to provide access to nature, enhancing one’s senses and hopefully wellbeing for those whom nature isn’t always readily available.

Over the next three months I will be working diligently to create my first indoor nature walk at Marston Court. The walk will involve an experience through the seasons engaging the senses. First, residents, staff, and visitors can stroll down the main hall gazing at murals of the four seasons as if immersed in the woods. During certain hours, a sensor will trigger birdsongs. Past the main hall, one can stop for a rest by the staircase, observing birdfeeders and a calming water feature. The walk ends with a beautiful painting of the English countryside.

Under the right conditions, the walk can be extended past the countryside painting, welcoming all to enjoy the wonderful courtyard space, home to Nelly the bunny and the parakeets. The indoor nature walk should encourage residents to spend time in the outdoor courtyard when the situation permits. The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare has developed the Marston Green Health Route, encouraging residents to walk or ride on mobile scooters through the local Milham Ford Nature Park. https://nhsforest.org/marston-green-health-route

In August, I will have a follow-up post describing the indoor walk in more detail, with photos of the final product.

Until then!

Marston Court’s hallway where the indoor nature walk will be implemented & Nelly the Bunny.