Photo: Mariah Amed.
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UOHS hosts workshop on benefits of indoor plants

If you’re a first-year student, you probably had a packing checklist back in August to make sure that you were all ready for moving into your dorm room. After picking up the essentials, like shower shoes and a laundry bin, you probably skimmed the list and absentmindedly ignored the suggestion to get an indoor plant.

Although telling a first-year student who can barely take care of themselves to get a plant may seem odd, there is a simple reason for it—plants have many benefits, and act as more than just cute dorm decorations. This was something that over 50 students learned about at Community Life Service’s (CLS) Green Festival Indoor Plant Workshop, run by the University of Ottawa’s Health Services (UOHS) on March 2.

The workshop was held in the University Centre Agora by the bookstore, and was put on by two of UOHS’ peer education teams, the Global Health team and the Mental Health team, along with U of O professors Liliane Dionne and Renate Sander-Segier. Dionne also donated spider plants for students to take home afterwards and learn how to plant.

The workshop, which was part of a number of environment-related events during the Green Festival, gave students the opportunity to relieve stress in a productive way while learning about taking care of indoor plants.

“Caring for plants has been proven to give some people a sense of purpose, help fight depression and increase levels of optimism,” wrote Jennifer Keays, health promotion coordinator for the UOHS, in an email to the Fulcrum. According to an Oct. 2015 article in the Independent, a study was done by Westminster and Essex universities that found participants who gardened even 30 minutes per week saw improved moods and self-esteem.

One of the UOHS peer educators at the event was Natasha Kienapple, a third-year health sciences student. Kienapple offered some insights as to why having an indoor plant is a good idea for students.

“It’s been found that it reduces stress and increases creativity (and) watering a plant is also something that is a responsibility,” says Kienapple. “When you remember to go water your plant every day, it’s like a source of happiness. It’s kind of like a pet of sorts but less maintenance.”

Kienapple also mentioned that it was especially useful for students living in dorms as plants are natural air purifiers, and fairly easy to maintain. They are also known to improve concentration, reduce fatigue, and improve problem solving skills, things that were mentioned and the workshop are all beneficial to students.

The Mental Health peer educators also handed out smile cards and the Global Health team supplied free Fair Trade coffee, as part of the UOHS’ initiative with the Office of Campus Sustainability, making the whole event stress free and environmentally conscious.

Keays also mentioned that the UOHS was happy with the turnout for the event and that they are hoping to host it again next year. She also wanted to remind students that the UOHS hosts many free events around campus every week, from yoga to pet therapy, which can be found on their website.


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