Groene Vingers

Project Groene Vingers’ mission is to bring together groups that would normally live largely isolated from one another: primary school children and elderly. By having old and young gather together in our gardens, the elderly get to enjoy the energy and enthusiasm of the new generation, fostering new connections that contribute to abating loneliness. Meanwhile, the children get to understand the elderly better, while engaging in an activity that has in myriad ways proven to be valuable to their development. Gardening with children has shown to have substantially improved cognitive and sensorimotor functioning, which is even more welcome for that part of the children involved in Groene Vingers that go to special needs schools due to a variety of learning and communication difficulties. Furthermore, gardening improves the mediation of emotion, helps in stress-relief, increases social participation, health and, unsurprisingly, also boosts overall well-being. Furthermore, gardening programs aimed at children have the benefit of educating a new generation about food production, encouraging them to eat healthier and get outside.

Groene Vingers kicked off last year with a pilot project at the school of Kentalis het Rotsoord in Utrecht last summer. Over a period of two months, we set up a functional garden at the school, making use of volunteers from our own campus of University College Utrecht. Four or five times a week we worked together with the children in the garden and grew numerous vegetables, as well as some flowers.

This year, we are harnessing the knowledge we gained during the pilot project to set up two new gardening locations. One will be located at primary school de Herderscheeschool, where we will primarily garden with their special needs class. The other will be cultivated next to senior living center Zuylenstede. This garden will be mainly used by children from several after school clubs.

Being only one year old, the Groene Vingers project has already succeeded in its aim of bringing children and elderly together through gardening, albeit on a small scale. For the near future, Groene Vingers intends to make the wonderful experience of intergenerational gardening accessible for many more of the youngest, and oldest inhabitants of Utrecht.

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If you have any question, would like to volunteer or if you would like to share your thoughts with us regarding this project, feel free to email us at: groenevingers.enactusucu@gmail.com

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