Vital Life Foundation
The Vital Life Foundation Connects Senior Adults With At-Risk Youth Through Horticulture Education Program provides healthy lifestyle skills and multi-generational bonding opportunities

MILWAUKIE, Ore – September 7, 2012 – The Vital Life Foundation, a non-profit that provides support to organizations that bring meaning to the lives of seniors and youth, is piloting the “Nourishing Body, Mind, and Spirit Program” at locations throughout the Portland area. This new program began in May and has joined together over 30 post acute care residents with at-risk youth to provide education and therapy through gardening.

The course engages participants in a variety of food and nutrition related topics. Prepping, planting, and caring for a garden as well as grocery shopping, cooking, harvesting, and composting are all topics that have or will be covered. The program was made possible when The Vital Life Foundation applied and received a grant through General Mills. Participating seniors are residents at Marquis post acute care facilities and the students are from Friends of The Children. Aside from teaching valuable life skills, the program also aims to facilitate connections between seniors and youth.

“So far we’ve had a great turn out with over 70 total participants – everyone has been very engaged. Working with food is in and of itself very interactive – so naturally the program has stimulated some valuable communication between the kids and our residents,” commented Vital Life Foundation director Mary Amick.  “Based on the success we’ve seen so far, we have high hopes to secure additional funding for this program.”

Gardening and Horticulture, therapy has been used since ancient times but is still a relatively new profession for therapists. In this specific program, students were seated next to a post acute care resident and then encouraged to take the resident through the different steps of gardening they have learned thus far.

Amick finished by saying, “While gardening and food skills are essential to daily life, we’re actually the most proud of the relationships and multigenerational mentoring that we’ve seen grow throughout the sessions. It isn’t often today that a 13-year-old and an 80- year-old can pull up their sleeves and get their hands dirty together.”

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About Friends of The Children  

Friends of the Children is a non-profit organization that connects at-risk Portland area youth with long-term mentors.  The program, started in 1993 by entrepreneur Duncan Campbell, was founded on the evidence that vulnerable children are better prepared to triumph over adversity when they have a consistent, dependable adult presence in their lives.

About the Vital Life Foundation

The Vital Life Foundation is a non-profit foundation providing support to organizations and programs that provide meaning and vitality to the lives of seniors and staff members living and working in long-term care. Created by Marquis Companies, a long-term care, assisted living and home health care company, and its sister company which provides pharmacy, rehabilitation, staffing and consulting to the long-term care community, Consonus Healthcare Services, The Vital Life Foundation has been operating since 2008.

By: Molly Gilbert, Public Relations, R/West