It all feels so overwhelming these days. From the pandemic, to the social media distractions, to educational interruptions, to climate change… It’s exhausting just writing these words because of all of the feelings of unrest that they can trigger inside. We’re all human though, so it’s our natural inclination to try and get a handle on these things. But on such a small island, what impact could we possibly have? And where would we even start?
At WindReach, we’ve had the opportunity to deliberate on these things amongst ourselves, using the pandemic as a time of deep reflection. And although we haven’t come up with a way of solving all the world’s problems, we truly understand the role that we have to play in it, using what we have, starting where we are.
Our biggest asset outside of our incredibly dedicated staff and our larger than life therapy animals, is this breathtaking property giving us our unique expression of how we deliver essential services. We’ve been entrusted with 4+ acres of natural landscape, nestled within a greater 10+ acres of woodland reserve. Home to trees and trails, creeping creatures and winged wonders that all share the same habitat with our neighbours. Nature has no property lines.
We understand truly and fully that every decision we make at WindReach impacts the nooks and crannies of this entire Woodland Ecosystem, and we’ve made it a core component of our values to be Environmental Land Stewards, working with our community to ensure the proliferation of this natural resource well into the future.
When developing our Environmental Education Programme, we really focused in on our context; not just our location, but how it ties in with communities that we serve and the Bermudian Culture that we belong to. A culture that, although we live in the midst of paradise, we often can’t see our forests for all those trees; and I do mean this literally. We don’t know what awaits us behind the woodland reserve boundaries and, rarely do we care to. What creatures have made their homes there, what plants have taken root for generations, and what to do with them all when we find them? Food, medicine, shelter, decoration, poison all in perfect balance, sustaining every breath we take, supporting this island since its settlement. Culturally we are so far removed from our dependence on it, at the detriment of our relationship to it, and some would say, to ourselves.
Here at WindReach, we have rediscovered our profound relationship with our island forests and are actively reestablishing our connection with it.
When participants and visitors are invited and gently guided on how to appropriately engage with our environment, it never ceases to amaze us the awe on their faces as they discover the wonders that this landscape has to offer. When they realize that there is actually a world full of enchantment as they pass through our gates and make their way down the winding pathways of the protected woodlands, they are often filled with a sense of awe at the beauty of it all and, perhaps, a developing sense of responsibility to care for it. The dew settled on forest floor, vibrantly coloured ferns and mosses growing on the damp limestone; the aromas of spice leaves as they crunch under their feet as we journey pass cultural monuments that give hint to a simpler past, when the relationship to our environment was intimate. All of this quickly followed by excitement when they discover our Therapy Animals living in and amongst this natural wonderland, enjoying it as freely as we do and as all animals should be able to.
After countless visits to this landscape and observing everyone’s interaction with it, we began to understand our culture’s context and our organisation’s responsibility within it. We are providing a therapeutic space for the rediscovery of Bermuda’s Natural Environment, and assisting in our culture’s reconnection with it. When you know how to appropriately interact with your surroundings, you can’t help but to take an interest in its preservation. And this relationship moves you to start to understand what you should do next.
With our Environmental Awakening during these times of communal hardship, our mission of enriching the quality of life for people with special needs has never resonated more true with us, and our purpose feels so much stronger now.
As we steward this natural landscape into a sustainable future, we’ve made it our responsibility to share our environment and our knowledge of appropriate engagement with it, with all who visit. Whether we are foraging wild growing herbs to make crafts, teas or tinctures in our Environmental Education Programme; managing invasive species, gently grazing our therapy animals through them in our Animal Assisted Therapy Activities; growing fresh produce around our Edible Landscape with our Therapeutic Horticulture Activities; creating compost with the waste from our Therapeutic Riding Programme; or simply, inviting visitors on a therapeutic stroll through our Woodland Reserve during our Educational Adventures. Every action we take is in support of our local environment, using what we have, starting exactly where we are.
If you would like to learn more about how you can engage with, support and experience our Natural Leaning Environment at WindReach, please contact Omari Dill, Environmental Education Coordinator, at email@example.com, find us on Social Media (windreachbermuda) or visit us online at https://www.windreachbermuda.org/programmes/environmental-education-programme/.
WindReach | Inspiring, Empowering & Changing Lives since 1999