Free
Poster Session
Issue Date: August 2016
Published Online: August 01, 2016
Updated: January 01, 2021
The Impact of an Earth-Centered, Integrational, Community-Based Program
Author Affiliations
  • Touro College
  • University of Montana
Article Information
Geriatrics/Productive Aging / Health and Wellness / Education of OTs and OTAs / Health Services Research and Education
Poster Session   |   August 01, 2016
The Impact of an Earth-Centered, Integrational, Community-Based Program
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011510223. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2016.70S1-PO5086
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, August 2016, Vol. 70, 7011510223. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2016.70S1-PO5086
Abstract

Date Presented 4/8/2016

Tender, an Earth-centered, intergenerational program, created new opportunities, reduced barriers to meaningful engagement, created connections with the Earth and between the generations, and allowed participants to expand their perceived capabilities and promote health.

Primary Author and Speaker: Stephanie Dapice Wong

Additional Author and Speaker: Anita Santasier

Contributing Authors: Meira Orentlicher, John Denny, Janey Romero-Marano

BACKGROUND: The World Federation of Occupational Therapist (2012) challenged occupational therapy (OT) practitioners to enable well-being while promoting a sustainable environment. Dennis, Dorsey, and Gitlow (2015) described the importance of emphasizing sustainability of the Earth while practicing occupational therapy. Human engagement in occupation within an enabling environment, including the global environment, promotes health. Unhealthy environments, including the planet, contribute to deprivation of healthy occupation.
PURPOSE: This study explored the impact of Tender, a community-based program designed to cultivate intergenerational connections through engagement in activities that explore and celebrate the Earth. A convenience sample of program participants included young adult OT students (n = 25), kindergarten children (n = 18), and older adults (n = 20) from local community programs in the proximity of the community garden where the program is centered. Program participants were male and female, from three generations, and ranged in age from 4 to 101 yr old.
The program consisted of Earth-centered activities including horticulture and human–animal interactions, celebrations of the Earth through music, preparing healthy food and products from the earth, and arts related to natural surroundings. Participants engaged in teaching, learning, and storytelling about earthly themes. It is hypothesized that there will be a positive impact on social, mental, and physical health of participants.
DESIGN: This qualitative study used in-depth phenomenological interviews of OT students (n = 3) and older adult (n = 3) participants.
METHOD: In-person focus group interviews of older adult participants and a separate focus group interview of OT students were conducted with open-ended semistructured questions about the anticipated and actual experience, the perceived impact on mental and physical health, and the effect of the environment.
ANALYSIS: The interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim, and coded by two or more researchers. Codes were grouped into categories. The transcripts were read again for code verification. Trustworthiness was ensured using participant check, triangulation, audit trail, and reflexivity. Further participant interviews will be necessary to ensure data saturation.
RESULTS: Four themes emerged from the data as preliminary findings. The four themes were simplicity, connections, meaningfulness, and new opportunities.
DISCUSSION: These preliminary results suggest that Tender, an Earth-centered, intergenerational program, created new opportunities for the participants. Its simplicity reduced barriers to meaningful engagement, created connections with the Earth and between the generations, and allowed participants to expand their perceived capabilities and promote health. Future phases will include analysis of quantitative measures of the impact on social, mental, and physical health, perceptions of aging in the participants and outcomes measuring the impact on the children and on the needs of the community.
IMPACT STATEMENT: Earth-centered activities and intergenerational programs can be incorporated into OT interventions to impact health. Activities that create connections to the Earth across generations enable well-being while promoting a sustainable environment (World Federation of Occupational Therapists, 2012).
References
Dennis, C. W., Dorsey, J. A., & Gitlow, L. (2015). A call for sustainable practice in occupational therapy. Canadian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 82, 160–168. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0008417414566925
World Federation of Occupational Therapists. (2012). Position statement: Environmental sustainability, sustainable practice within occupational therapy. Retrieved from http://www.wfot.org/ResourceCenter/tabid/132/did/500/Default.aspx