At Power To Be, we understand the interconnectedness of our experiences in nature and its correlation to mental health and wellbeing.
On the surface, a lot of our programming illustrates the teachings of technical skills, such as how to paddle a kayak, the ability to safely navigate a trail system or waterway, and how to dress accordingly for all weather types. Those skills are important and provide great benefit to our participants. An impactful element, however, that is harder to capture through imagery is Power To Be’s approach to Mental Health programming.
With our programming, we lean into the approach of having our participants and community express their emerging needs and barriers, allowing program design to develop around those self-identified needs. Over the past few years, our community has been expressing heightened levels of stress, depression, and anxiety. Programming focused around mental health and wellbeing has never been more important or requested than it is today.
Mental health and wellbeing show up in a variety of ways in our programming. From the first point of contact, our programs are interwoven with the well-being of our participants. Starting with the tradition of an opening circle – the point where participants and staff come together at the beginning of program and are presented with a question of the day. This question is usually something fun and engaging, but more so, provides a gauge for staff on how a participant may be showing up physically and emotionally to program, thus informing the ways in which we can support them.
In acknowledging that nature is our greatest facilitator, we’ve been able to create more intentional programming focused around mindfulness and the healing properties that nature provides. Activities such as selecting a ‘sit-spot’ – a comfortable spot in nature to sit in silence, reflect on the surrounding environment and slow down your mind and in turn, connect to your breath. It is quite the experience, walking towards a sit-spot with a gaggling group, only to be sitting in the silence of one another moments later.
One of the most important pieces around mental health programming is the act of creating a space for participants to feel safe and vulnerable, where they can choose to share their lived-experiences with their peers. At Power To Be, we’re actively working to create safe spaces for our community, both in nature and as of more recently, virtually.
If you’re interested in exploring some of our self-lead activities focused around mental health and wellness, check out this link.
It is thanks to funders like Bell: Let’s Talk that make these types of programs possible for our community.