To commemorate the International Day for Biological Diversity on 22nd May, Nature Seychelles Chief Executive Dr. Nirmal Shah presented the organization’s projects to promote "Bio Happiness", at a national conference entitled "Be happy, Make Seychelles happy” at the Seychelles’ International Conference Centre. Shah's presentation focused on Nature Seychelles programmes which include the Green Health programme and Heritage Garden, and its innovative projects - the Greening Livelihoods and Gardens for Growth projects, which are all society-based and geared to help people have well rounded fulfilling lives. It has long been argued that human beings thrive in natural environments and in bonded social groups. But the modernity, which has been achieved by developed countries and which is being actively pursued by developing ones, also brings with it modern malaise caused principally by our disconnection with the natural world. We spend more time indoors whether at work in-front of computers or at relaxation in front of TVs. We are constantly bombarded by information coming via our emails, internet, phones and various multimedia toys of choice which favour an isolated life that reduces our natural contact with people and the environment around us.
Added to this is our consumption of food which we no longer grow and which comes heavily processed, affecting our physical bodies, minds and moods.
So wide-spread is the problem that the phrase "nature deficit disorder" has entered into popular lexicon. The term describes a range of behavioural problems in children who spend less time outdoors. It is now widely used to include physical, mental and emotional problems that affect people of all ages who are disconnected from nature.
Research by leading universities in the UK, USA and Australia has proven that a re-connection with nature can cure this malaise. It re-invigorates our minds and bodies, and induces contact with others and with nature.
This is the basis of Nature Seychelles programmes and projects. Started in 2010, the Green Health programme teaches people to connect with nature through wellness and healthy lifestyles in natural surroundings. It combines yoga, physical exercises and meditation in natural surroundings. Through the Heritage Garden, it is teaching people to grow organic foods and "reconnect with the soil" as our ancestors did.
Another innovative programme, the "Greening Livelihoods" programme uses nature to help the vulnerable in Society especially those with substance abuse issues. It imparts mental, physical and practical skills to improve livelihood opportunities for those affected.
The Gardens for Growth project also provides sustainable livelihoods opportunities for disadvantaged people through community gardens. Apart from the well-being engendered by gardening and getting in touch with nature, the project imparts skills useful for our vision for a green economy in Seychelles.
Other topics covered in the conference centre around a peaceful mind, healthy eating, physical exercise, gratitude, and giving back.
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