Pathfinders Blog

Stories about our youth, Pathfinders news, and more.

Youth Voices

Green Spaces and Mental WEALTH!

The impact environment has on our emotional well-being is tangible! Anecdotally we all have memories of spaces and places and how these influence our mood and well-being. The quick window of summer in Milwaukee feels fast, everybody trying to make the most of the heat, humidity, and sun while it lasts. Through my work at Pathfinders as a therapeutic case manager I have had the privilege of organizing a garden group at Pathfinders Drop-In Center. It is a space to be watered, weeded, sat in, looked at…nurtured. The garden is a metaphor for our own healing.  What we tend to and nurture thrives. What we avoid and neglect simply “gets by.”

According to research done by the European Centre for Environment and Human Health, people living in and having access to greener urban areas experience fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression. This highlights the importance of parks, gardens, and all kinds of green spaces. People living amidst more greenery tend to have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and self-report a greater sense of well-being. Living in a city setting offers access to green spaces, but often times these green spaces must be actively sought out. By increasing quantity and accessibility of green spaces, communities are providing residents a potential life-altering opportunity to increase mental wealth! Research published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology noted that within 5 minutes of outdoor exposure people experienced a boost in their mood and self-esteem.

Throughout the summer we did the best we could with what we had! Peppers, potatoes, basil, corn, onions, and eggplants made it…cucumbers, melons, squash, and brussel sprouts did not. The garden was a victory none-the less. Utilizing this Pathfinder’s green space is definitely part of my daily stress relief at work in addition to reducing the stress of many of my clients and co-workers alike. As more and more people used the green space over the summer months, we decided to put our stress relief practice into words. Below are writings from young adults that are committed to their recovery and have experienced first-hand the power of green spaces increasing their mental wealth!

Get outside!

A personal reflection:

“The air makes me think and relieves stress. When I moved into my first apartment and was upset, I walked outside and sat and stared and realized green makes me think.”

- Anonymous

A personal reflection:

“I like being outside because it gives me fresh air and it takes my mind off a lot of things. I also listen to my music when I’m outside because it helps me forget about a lot of things. The music helps me forget about if an incident happened. I really like the lake because of the breeze, the air, and the waves on the lake, the sand that touches your feet when you’re walking, the trees that sway back and forth. It puts me in a peaceful place…just being by myself, no noise, don’t have to worry about people yelling, screaming and running back and forth. I can enjoy the time that I’m there, the energy that it gives me.”

- Demarius Turner

A personal reflection:

“Nature is free and beautiful and you’d be surprised about what it has to offer. There are a lot of different species in nature. I love the different smells of nature, it calms you and you can see the specific parts and jobs they do. The flowers are my favorite-honeysuckles and the pink flowers that bloom over and over.

Everybody should be in nature more, it helps with mental health and should calm down. It’s a different space and that’s useful because it keeps people busy and they can grow their own food.”

- C. Morgan

The Garden

We smile as we feel the wild wind touch our faces
        We talk on about the wishes we have for this garden.
Maybe these fruits we have planted will grow big
        Or will they be so small almost hard to see.
Whether they grow big or stay small
                The joy it brings us will be hard to replace.
There has been some sweat caused by humidity and the beautiful vibrant sun.
        But trust me most of it was from very hard hard work.
Yet we do not weep nor lament our being here.
        Pulling weeds is hard
                But let us remember that from hard work the recompense is big
        In this case it was not money
                Nor a new brand car
                        But the joy of watching something grow
The joy of being able to forget about everything else
        And remember only the simplicity of life
                The fact that we take little things for granted.
But what I enjoyed most was
                A lot of meaningful talks with close friends.
        Maybe these fruits we have planted will grow big
                        Or will they be so small almost hard to see.

- Christopher JM

Nature’s Wonder

Ebony oaks and colorful leaves
Beauty, I see!
In between the season
I walk through the trails.
I smell nature’s perfume.
O My! Doesn’t she smell swell.
Cause anywhere and everywhere is home, as long I’m under the stars and moon.
I stay cool in the shade of my wood skinned brother and my thirst is quenched by the juices of the river.
Now I say, “What waters are angry in my soul?”
“For now I am at peace.”
The lost one has found peace in nature’s homes.

- Anonymous

Youth Voices

Green Spaces and Mental WEALTH!

The impact environment has on our emotional well-being is tangible! Anecdotally we all have memories of spaces and places and how these influence our mood and well-being. The quick window of summer in Milwaukee feels fast, everybody trying to make the most of the heat, humidity, and sun while it lasts. Through my work at Pathfinders as a therapeutic case manager I have had the privilege of organizing a garden group at Pathfinders Drop-In Center. It is a space to be watered, weeded, sat in, looked at…nurtured. The garden is a metaphor for our own healing.  What we tend to and nurture thrives. What we avoid and neglect simply “gets by.”

According to research done by the European Centre for Environment and Human Health, people living in and having access to greener urban areas experience fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression. This highlights the importance of parks, gardens, and all kinds of green spaces. People living amidst more greenery tend to have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and self-report a greater sense of well-being. Living in a city setting offers access to green spaces, but often times these green spaces must be actively sought out. By increasing quantity and accessibility of green spaces, communities are providing residents a potential life-altering opportunity to increase mental wealth! Research published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology noted that within 5 minutes of outdoor exposure people experienced a boost in their mood and self-esteem.

Throughout the summer we did the best we could with what we had! Peppers, potatoes, basil, corn, onions, and eggplants made it…cucumbers, melons, squash, and brussel sprouts did not. The garden was a victory none-the less. Utilizing this Pathfinder’s green space is definitely part of my daily stress relief at work in addition to reducing the stress of many of my clients and co-workers alike. As more and more people used the green space over the summer months, we decided to put our stress relief practice into words. Below are writings from young adults that are committed to their recovery and have experienced first-hand the power of green spaces increasing their mental wealth!

Get outside!

A personal reflection:

“The air makes me think and relieves stress. When I moved into my first apartment and was upset, I walked outside and sat and stared and realized green makes me think.”

- Anonymous

A personal reflection:

“I like being outside because it gives me fresh air and it takes my mind off a lot of things. I also listen to my music when I’m outside because it helps me forget about a lot of things. The music helps me forget about if an incident happened. I really like the lake because of the breeze, the air, and the waves on the lake, the sand that touches your feet when you’re walking, the trees that sway back and forth. It puts me in a peaceful place…just being by myself, no noise, don’t have to worry about people yelling, screaming and running back and forth. I can enjoy the time that I’m there, the energy that it gives me.”

- Demarius Turner

A personal reflection:

“Nature is free and beautiful and you’d be surprised about what it has to offer. There are a lot of different species in nature. I love the different smells of nature, it calms you and you can see the specific parts and jobs they do. The flowers are my favorite-honeysuckles and the pink flowers that bloom over and over.

Everybody should be in nature more, it helps with mental health and should calm down. It’s a different space and that’s useful because it keeps people busy and they can grow their own food.”

- C. Morgan

The Garden

We smile as we feel the wild wind touch our faces
        We talk on about the wishes we have for this garden.
Maybe these fruits we have planted will grow big
        Or will they be so small almost hard to see.
Whether they grow big or stay small
                The joy it brings us will be hard to replace.
There has been some sweat caused by humidity and the beautiful vibrant sun.
        But trust me most of it was from very hard hard work.
Yet we do not weep nor lament our being here.
        Pulling weeds is hard
                But let us remember that from hard work the recompense is big
        In this case it was not money
                Nor a new brand car
                        But the joy of watching something grow
The joy of being able to forget about everything else
        And remember only the simplicity of life
                The fact that we take little things for granted.
But what I enjoyed most was
                A lot of meaningful talks with close friends.
        Maybe these fruits we have planted will grow big
                        Or will they be so small almost hard to see.

- Christopher JM

Nature’s Wonder

Ebony oaks and colorful leaves
Beauty, I see!
In between the season
I walk through the trails.
I smell nature’s perfume.
O My! Doesn’t she smell swell.
Cause anywhere and everywhere is home, as long I’m under the stars and moon.
I stay cool in the shade of my wood skinned brother and my thirst is quenched by the juices of the river.
Now I say, “What waters are angry in my soul?”
“For now I am at peace.”
The lost one has found peace in nature’s homes.

- Anonymous