150 years of serving humanity
29 September 2017
A therapeutic park for the elderly in Minsk is coming soon!

UPDATED

Some time ago, we wrote about Singapore Therapeutic Garden. Then, after writing the article, we thought: what if we created the same kind of garden in Minsk? We applied for Social Weekend 10, the Belarusian contest of social projects, and won People's Choice award and funding from Yuri Melnichek! Follow our news on https://www.facebook.com/therapeutic.park.belarus/. Here is the project description, which is updated regularly.

Therapeutic Park project
Motto: Minsk, a city friendly to everyone.

Problem
There are not enough sitew for active leisure in the open air within easy reach of older people. 

Project relevance

Almost two million inhabitants of our country have reached the age of 60 years, and the population continues to grow old. Over 10 years, the number of elderly people in Belarus increased by 245,500, or 14%. The percentage of citizens over 60 grew from 14.7% at the beginning of 2007 to 19% at the beginning of 2017. In order to ensure healthy ageing, to improve the quality of one’s life in the older age, to live longer and feel better, it is important to lead a healthy and active life. To ensure all that, certain environment is necessary.

What is good for the elderly is good for everyone, and therefore we believe that our project will be useful to as wide an audience as possible. It is highly important to be able to improve psychological and physical well-being at any age. Everyone needs an opportunity to walk, as well as to sit down, relax, and regain strength during one’s walk. Taking care of the elderly, we can help other groups of the population, such as children and their parents, people with chronic diseases and disabilities.

We suggest starting to introduce the changes in the capital, but anyone is welcome to take up our initiative in other cities of Belarus!

Target group

Older people living in the Partizanskij district of Minsk. According to the statistics of the Territorial Center of Social Services for Population, every fourth district resident is an elderly person: among 98,000 residents of the district, 25,000 persons receive pensions and allowances.

Solution

Creating a therapeutic park in Minsk, a place where older people can relax, socialize, participate in gardening, physical activities and intellectual games.

The park will be located in the green zone between the Klumova lane and a pond. This is the old district of Minsk and there are many elderly people living around. There is a green zone where older people usually walk, but there are not enough benches and no opportunities for intellectual and active leisure.

The park will consist of a rest zone with comfortable benches and an activity zone with a space for gardening and landscaping, as well as for board games and other activities. Several health programs were developed with the participation of the elderly: Nordic walking training, exercises on keeping one’s balance to prevent the elderly from falling down.

We plan to involve at least 200 elderly residents of the district in the process of the park development.

Developing the park, we use the recommendations of the Professor from the Department of Psychological Medicine, National University of Singapore, and take into account special needs of people with the signs of dementia and those who have suffered a stroke.  

Layout of the therapeutic park in Minsk developed by Anastasia Zavalej, designer and Belarus Red Cross volunteer.

Budget for Social Weekend 10 competition:

Task

Amount, BYN

Procurement of benches  

900

Procurement, manufacture of board games and floor games

800

Procurement of materials and objects for gardening: high tables, portable flower beds, soil

1600

Procurement of plants

800

TOTAL

4100

 The following tasks will be completed free of charge, with the involvement of partners and volunteers:                                                                               
- bedding plants, park improvement; 
- developing information materials, landscape projects; 
- developing and implementing leisure and health programs.    

Partners and sponsors will be involved.

Project sustainability   

  • The Territorial Center of Social Service of Population of the Partizanskij district in Minsk located across the street from the therapeutic park joined the project and provided a room for storing our inventory and games. It also provides us with water for watering plants and participates in organizing activities for the elderly.
  • Volunteers of the Belarus Red Cross Society, including elderly participants of initiative groups, are planning to maintain the work of the park when it is opened.  
  • Our initiative is supported by local authorities because the project contributes to attracting funds and solving social problems of the district by the means of improving local area, providing social support to the elderly, and improving the quality of life of the population.
  • No housing development is planned in the green zone where the therapeutic park is being created.
  • Partnership. The sustainability of the project is fostered by the wide involvement of partners.       


    Our partners:
  • The district Executive Committee of the Partizanskij district in Minsk
  • Territorial Center of Social Service of Population of Partizanskij district in Minsk
  • The Minsk city organization of the Belarus Red Cross Society (BRCS), the district BRCS organization of the Partizanskij district in Minsk
  • Central botanical Garden of the National Academy of Science of the Republic of Belarus
  • Volunteers

 We have also invited the following agencies to cooperate with us:

  • Minskzelenstroj;
  • Health Committee of the Minsk City Executive Committee;
  • City geriatric center located at the Central district polyclinic No 14 of the Partizanskij district in Minsk;
  • Republican Research and Practice Center for Mental Health.

Team. Competencies. Related projects

Members of the project team:

Paulina Ivanko - idea, communication

Tatiana Svetlovich - Management, public health

Alexandra Kolesnikovich - working with communities

Natalia Pilipenko - coordinating volunteers

Anastasia Zavalej - design

Albina Pozhaeva   - initiative group of elderly people

Several members of our team

The Belarus Red Cross Society has been working with older people for more than 10 years, helping them to unite in initiative groups and actively participate in the lives of their communities. This working model was shared with Belarus by the Swiss Red Cross. When creating the therapeutic park, we will use active participation as the main working approach. We will implement our project not for the elderly, but rather together with the elderly.  

The Belarus Red Cross has a vast experience in organizing health and leisure activities for the older people. We plan to train the therapeutic park visitors in Nordic walking and respiratory exercises.

Our team was inspired by the project called Therapeutic Garden which was implemented in Singapore. When we were preparing for the Social Weekend, there was only one such park in Singapore, and now there are three of those!

We focus on the best foreign practice. In 2007, the World Health Organization issued the Global Age-Friendly Cities: A Guide. The Guide includes practical recommendations, such as placing the sufficient number of convenient benches in the green zones of the city, arranging the work of public toilets with signs available for persons with disabilities, as well as long-term objectives, such as forming civic culture that respects the elderly and takes into account their interests. The Global Network for Age-friendly Cities and Communities already unites 258 cities from 28 countries, but sadly, Belarus is not among them yet. We would be happy if Minsk, our capital, joined this network in the future.

Project Evaluation

Evaluation criteria: achievement of expected results; growth in the park attendance; feedback form the elderly "auditors" and park visitors.

 We believe that our project will allow us to take a step towards creating an age-friendly society and a city that is comfortable for people of all ages!

 Photos: National Parks Board (Singapore), Belarus Red Cross Society, Swiss Red Cross