There are exciting things happening at ACTION Services this year! We are revamping our outdoor space. The new outdoor therapy space we are creating will have accessible tables, a large checkerboard, benches, a basketball goal, and garden container boxes. Fruit trees and trees for shade are planted nearby.
ACTION Services received grants from AARP, Conway County, USDA, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture Forestry Division, and Tree City Morrilton. The USDA describes several ways in which being outside impacts our health. Being outdoors is beneficial to physical wellness, as being outside is proven to increase life expectancy, improve sleep quality and more (USDA Website). This is partly because being outdoors promotes more physical activity, but also has to do with the act of just being outside, which by itself can reduce stress and lessens our cortisol levels, muscle tension, and heart rates. Spending time outdoors also plays into our mental health. The USDA says that being outside promotes a lower risk of depression and faster psychological stress recovery. This means that the outdoors factor into our mental wellness in an immensely positive way by reducing stress and increasing focus and attention.
Aside from clear mental and physical health benefits, being outside also benefits us by providing a space for social interaction. The great outdoors functions as a venue for people to come together with their peers, friends, and family to engage with their greater community. Within ACTION Services, the new outdoor space will provide a venue for the consumers to come together to interact and learn alongside each other. The social aspect of ACTION Services is a significant benefit to the well-being of its consumers. Further, the USDA argues that having access to nature can benefit entire communities by decreasing crime rates and the community residents’ feelings of depression. Overall, being outdoors contributes to the betterment of our health, both mental and physical, our social life, and our small and large communities.
The adults at ACTION Services have been learning how to care for the trees and learning to “grow their own groceries.” by participating in the University of Arkansas Extension Office Lunch and Learns. Not only is gardening relaxing, it also is rewarding in growing your own food. Knowing where your fruits and vegetables come from ensures non-processed, clean food. Being conscious of what you put into your body and working to eat healthily is important. By having the adults at ACTION Services tend to the gardening, they are learning to think about what they’re eating and taking on more responsibility.
The Tree City Morrilton grant provided funding for the shade trees. The AARP grant funding was used to help finance this project. The AARP works to help communities become great places to live especially through projects that transform communities. This project will transform the community. All the grants received worked in funding this project in some form. Knowing all the positives of being outside to individuals and to the community as a whole, it is clear that the new outdoor therapy area will be wildly beneficial to ACTION Services and beyond.