Langley students are benefiting from nature through calming outdoor mood walks

Langley students are benefiting from nature through calming outdoor mood walks

Coast Capital Savings donated $5,500 to help grow the mental health program

Langley students who suffer from depression, anxiety, and even severe trauma, have been taking a study break to recharge their brains with some time spent outdoors.

“It’s old wisdom that’s new again,” said Marcello Moino, principal of Langley Secondary School (LSS). “Being out in nature helps.”

Through an initiative called the Focus Program, a comfortable classroom setting where students who don’t thrive in the regular school system have a chance to receive extra help, mood walks provide a time to shake off stress in an activity void of pressure.

Created and facilitated by LSS teachers Laurence Greefe and Gwen Thornburn – who took their inspiration from an adult day program in Ontario – students from around the district head out for several hours once a month on a leisurely stroll.

Derby Reach, Port Coquitlam, Stanley Park, Surrey Bend, and White Rock Beach are just some of the locations students have visited during the two years that mood walks have gotten underway.

Susan Cairns, executive director for Langley School District Foundation, has been one of the biggest supporters of the project.

She noted that Langley is one of the only areas to her knowledge to gets students interacting outside in this capacity,

“It’s a unique program,” Cairns said. “When they asked the foundation if we could help some of the kids who don’t have proper rain gear and busing and lunches, I began looking for grants that could benefit mood walks specifically.”

Coast Capital Savings presented a $5,500 cheque on Wednesday, Feb. 5, to support the program at LSS.

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Four Coast Capital representatives were able to tour the Focus program’s classroom, which Greefe and Thornburn said was a cozy and alternate environment to provide academics that are tailored to each student’s needs.

They eagerly brought out a photo album filled with pictures of mood walks from last year; it was part of a subsequent project that makes use of pictures that students took while on the walk.

“Students take pictures on the walks because their photo voice and what we observe helps express what we feel,” Greefe explained.

The project for students this year will be to put their mood walk photos onto specially designed posters.

Hundreds of graduate photos additionally lined the classroom’s walls – all former Focus Program members who Greefe and Thornburn proudly said have gone on to bright futures because of how the curriculum and way students are taught and cared for have been changing.

Greefe thanked both Coast Capital and Cairns for their support, which will continue the program for the foreseeable future.

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Email: ryan.uytdewilligen@langleyadvancetimes.com

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Langley School District