A Glorious Garden for Golden Haven

From Jamal --

SUNY Cortland Team at Golden Haven
The rose coloured pathways at The Belize Zoo have been delighting more and more visitors. As Belize’s only accessible nature destination, folks have been able to glide through the Zoo on foot, wheelchair, walker, or stroller all the same.

This milestone was due in no small part to help from our friends at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Cortland. Staff and students from SUNY’s Inclusive Recreation Resource Center (IRRC) supported the Zoo pathway transformation from day one. When it was completed, they eagerly asked “what’s next?!”

Luckily, Zoo officials knew of a golden opportunity just down the road. The sweet seniors of Golden Haven Rest Home in Hattieville have visited the Zoo to enjoy the “elderly friendly” environment. They received “at-home” visits from Rose the Crocodile and Happy the Owl, as well! Seeing the residents actively engaged inspired ideas on more ways to keep them active.

With support from the Ministry of Human Development, a plan was set for the SUNY Cortland team to apply their skills to create something special for Golden Haven: an accessible garden!

Led by Dr. Vicki Wilkins, the SUNY Cortland team arrived this past August to make the dream garden become a reality. Our week long efforts resulted in 6 raised garden boxes built in the front yard of the Home; the first of their kind in Belize!

Golden Haven Seniors
Golden Haven manager, Allison Williams, glowed with pride as passersby slowed down to admire the colourful additions. A few of the curious seniors even came out to inspect the all the activity. They approved with beaming smiles and tried their hands at some of the garden tools.

The seniors and staff will be growing vegetables for the kitchen, and other eye-catching plants, making their garden a beautiful and functional form of therapeutic recreation.

And, while a garden was being built outside, there was more happening inside the Home, as well! An important “storybook” project was started to record the oral histories of these wise members of Belizean society. The storybook project could be continued by young Belizean students, strengthening communication and respect between the young and old generations.

After a super successful week, the question was asked again: “What’s next?!” The Zoo is proud to have been part of such a productive partnership that fosters education and compassion between all those involved. More golden opportunities are soon to follow!

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