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Plants for Happiness

A program for teens and young adults affected by anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and eating disorders to find healing through gardening.

Photo of Madeleine So20
13 10

Written by

Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

In a study from NASA, research shows that certain indoor plants are able to improve the indoor air quality and remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other toxins from the air. Other articles and studies have also proved that certain plants can relieve, anxiety, stress, lower blood pressure, improve concentration and productivity, and in general bring up one’s mood. One particular experiment studied the effects of flowering plants and foliage in hospital rooms of patients recovering from abdominal injury. Patients in the control group were in hospital rooms without any plants while the other patients were in a room with plants around. In the summary of the experiment and findings, the author writes, “Patients in hospital rooms with plants and flowers had significantly fewer intakes of postoperative analgesics, more positive physiological responses evidenced by lower systolic blood pressure and heart rate, lower ratings of pain, anxiety, and fatigue, and more positive feelings and higher satisfaction about their rooms when compared with patients in the control group.” Lastly, a study by Masahi Soga, Kevin J. Gaston, and Yuichi Yamaurac have studied the positive impact of gardening and horticulture on one’s health. My idea for the is a program called Plants for Happiness that will allow teens and young adults affected by anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and eating disorders to come together and grow plants as a way of therapy, comfort, and to benefit their rooms that they may bring their plants back to. This program appeals to this population’s needs by providing a safe and comfortable space with the materials needed for the teens and young adults to learn and have the responsibility of growing something. Participants will have a chance to spend time in the company of someone also in the process of healing to provide support and friendship with one another while learning about how to better take care of and love themselves just as they take care of plants.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

This program will be serving teens and young adults dealing with mental illnesses that are in the anxiety disorder, mood disorder, and eating disorder categories. Participants will benefit from this program by gaining the chance to make friends and grow with each other. In addition, the participants will be able to learn about growing plants, and how they can apply the responsibility and care of plants to themselves.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

There have been other ideas and plants that talk about building gardens, greenhouses, or general structures for plants to be in hospitals for patients to see and enjoy, but my idea is on a smaller scale in which young patients can interact with people around their age and grow their own plants in a safe space with the provided materials. Plants for Happiness will be more successful because it is a program that allows teens and young adults to take on the responsibility of growing plants themselves while building a understanding community; the program has more of a purpose for plants and the opportunity for people to have something to care for while getting the chance to alleviate any stress and sadness and gain companionship with other young adults going through struggles.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Initial Design: I am exploring the idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

I am a highschool student in grade 10 taking an environmental science class. Attached is my blog throughout the class this year.

Expertise in sector

  • 1-2 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Other

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

While talking with a friend that used to have clinical depression, I learned that she read many studies about depression and the effects of different treatments, including a study that showed the positive impacts of plants on patients with anxiety and depression. I became curious about the effect that plants on people’s mental state, and wanted to make a program that could introduce young people to gardening as a form of therapy after researching more about the positive effects plants can have.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

According to the first definition of peace in the New Oxford American Dictionary, peace is defined as “freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility...mental calm; tranquility”. The afflicted individual’s peace of mind is impacted by their mental health and environment around them. Plants and the planet can be used to improve the surroundings of the teens that are affected by mental illnesses (by growing plants). Plants for Happiness bridges peace and planet by using nature to improve the one's mental health and overall happiness.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

Plants for Happiness will partner with hospitals and support groups in order to allow teens and young adults with mental illnesses in the anxiety disorder, mood disorder, and eating disorder categories to give them the option to participate in the Plants for Happiness Program. Participants will have a chance to find support through other young people that they may meet while learning how they can use gardening and plants as a way to relieve stress, find comfort, and responsibility. Plants for Happiness prioritizes the socialization between similar age teens and young adults while nurturing plants.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Some advantages of this program are that it works on a smaller scale in local communities and does not need an extremely long time to see effects.

Geographic Focus

The program will start off focusing in California, but can expand to the rest of the US.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

The project idea can be carried out for at least 6 months with participants attending regularly at least once a week to allow plants to grow and for participants to spend time with each other.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

This inspired (1)

Celebration for All


Join the conversation:

Photo of Shikha Dixit

Hi Madeleine, It is so inspiring to see a young participant to work on such a contemporary issue of 'mental health'. I wish you all the best in your journey.

Photo of Madeleine So20

Thank you so much! :D

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