Visitors seeking some nature-based rejuvenation at Wildwood Preserve Metropark this weekend can take part in one of several self-care activities led by students from The University of Toledo.
The free wellness programming will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 26, at the Wildwood Manor House.
Designed and organized by juniors in UToledo’s Recreation Therapy Program, the event includes a mix of drop-in stations, such as guided deep breathing exercises and nature art and scheduled activities that include chair yoga and Tai Chi.
Individuals aged 8 and up of all fitness levels and abilities are welcome. Registration is not required. A full schedule of events is available on the Metroparks website.
Dr. Holly Eichner, an associate lecturer and director of the UToledo Recreation Therapy Program, said the event is designed to get students hands-on experience while leveraging the therapeutic benefits of being in nature.
“There’s been some wonderful research around nature’s ability to increase mindfulness, reduce stress and promote overall wellness,” Eichner said. “This is a great way for students to learn, get involved and provide a service that benefits the health and wellness of our entire community.”
Recreation therapists use leisure activities to help individuals improve their quality of life. Therapy can help lessen anxiety and depression, assist in improving or recovering motor skills and help to strengthen social connections.
That idea of using play as a therapeutic intervention is what drew Lydia Miller to pursue recreation therapy at UToledo.
“I really love being creative and I feel like recreation therapy gives you a lot of leeway to be creative,” she said. “You’re playing a game or doing a fun activity, but there’s a goal in mind and it’s being done to improve a patient’s quality of life.”
Now a junior in the program and a student member at large for the Ohio Recreational Therapy Association, Miller has taken on a major role in helping to plan out this weekend’s event.
“For a lot of us, this is probably the first hands-on activity that we’ll be doing with the community. I’m very excited to gain confidence and put into practice the things I’ve been learning for three years now,” she said. “This is really cool for us to get out there and do something beneficial for people of all ages in our community.”
Both entrances to Wildwood are open, but Central Avenue is closed between them as work crews replace a bridge over the Ottawa River.