The therapeutic effects of gardening have long been widely known. This type of therapy has been used around the world since at least the 1800s.
Our MiniActive program, a network of over 1,200 Palestinian women throughout East Jerusalem who are working on a daily basis to improve their everyday lives, has extensively dealt with environmental issues. Alongside working to improve safety and environmental hazards in residents’ immediate vicinity, MiniActive groups have partnered with women from other parts of Israel to learn about environmental issues; they have participated in a number of other related activities as well.
In Jerusalem, the David Yellin Academic College of Education operates a special course in horticulture therapy, but it is regularly available only in Hebrew. Now, they will be able to have access to the course, in Arabic. This is the first time ever that such a course will be made available in Arabic in Jerusalem. Indeed, while gardening therapy programs are available in western Jerusalem, there are no programs, and awareness of its benefits is very low.
We came to an agreement with the College in which the women would pay only half of the tuition fee. Classes will take place once a week for a full day, to enable the women to continue to work. 15 women started the course, which is scheduled to begin in mid-October.
The course is supposed to coincide with the beginning of the academic year, and is open to those trained in special education. Participants will learn about the world of plants and the therapeutic garden – principles of planning, establishing and maintaining such a garden. They will also learn the principles of psychology and psychotherapy, as well as how to design a gardening therapy program and practicums and lab exercises in closed areas.
Many thanks to the Jerusalem Foundation for its ongoing support of this program.