Last month a 12-week Reading with Nature programme came to an end at Calderstones Park, Liverpool. The programme was run in partnership with The Reader, who are based within the park. As pioneers of Shared Reading, the aim of the organisation is to build communities through reading great literature aloud, in turn improving wellbeing and reducing social isolation. The values shared between The Reader and Nature4Health provided a great foundation to work collaboratively on this programme. As ever, it was important to incorporate the benefits of nature into the sessions, and with the beautiful surroundings of Calderstones Park on offer there was an abundance of natural spaces for the participants to discover.
Over the 12 weeks the programme engaged a total of 44 participants, with at least 15 participants attending each week. Each week, participants were invited to read a different nature-based poem whilst exploring different areas of the park. As most participants were living with dementia, it was predicted that the opportunity for them to connect with nature may stimulate thoughts, feelings, and emotions based on previous experiences in the natural environment. One week the group read ‘When I am Among Trees’ by Mary Oliver whilst walking ‘among trees’ in the park. This facilitated some wonderful tales from the participants in attendance:
John, recalling his time working on ships in Canada said “There they had trees that were so enormous you had to run right around the bottom of the trunk!”
During a conversation about the magic of trees after walking past the 1000 year old Allerton Oak, one group member said he could imagine magical creatures living in the tree.
Overall the programme was a great success, with a special mention for Katie and her team of volunteers at The Reader for delivering such a wonderful service.