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As May is Stroke Awareness Month, it gives us a great opportunity to showcase Thrive’s recent sessions with Talk Surrey – a charity that supports both people living with aphasia and their families.

Aphasia affects a third of all people who have a stroke, with resulting communication problems (speaking, understanding, reading and writing). One of the many great things about gardening is its ability to rebuild a person’s health following an illness, accident or other life altering event.

Our recent Talk Surrey session in Knaphill, Woking proved a big hit with stroke recoverers. Everyone involved showed plenty of creativity and colour flair when it came to creating produce plates and planting up baskets. And all of this was rounded off by a fun session of floral bingo!

The bespoke gardening activities were designed to help the stroke recoverers in various ways, using gardening techniques and exercises to help aid memory recall, encourage communication, rebuild self-confidence as well as working on motor skills.

Creating the colourful collage plates featuring produce resulted in some great conversations and recollections between recoverers, volunteers and Thrive staff. Once everyone had discussed and agreed which fruit and vegetables would feature on their plates, the next stage involved cutting and sticking them down. Many recoverers showed great dexterity when cutting out shapes with the activity helping build up their stamina.

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Ably assisted by Talk Surrey volunteers the next activity involved everyone potting up a flower pot. Following a step-by-step demo from Thrive staff some stunning baskets were created by the group, proving just what they could achieve. Some helpful tips on easy planting were provided so our green-fingered gardeners could try out the techniques at home.

Finally, we rounded off with a game of bingo. As this was a Thrive-organised session it involved pictures of plants and flowers! The focus was to have plenty of fun but also to boost memory recall. One lucky winner went away with seeds and planting tray as a great memento of the day.

Many of the group’s recoverers were keen gardeners prior to their stroke, and the session helped show them what they could still achieve. Attendee Jeff had always loved gardening but found his confidence had dwindled following his stroke in 2003 that affected his right-hand side. At the end of the session Jeff felt determined to try some more gardening.

By chatting to Thrive staff, Jeff got some useful ideas to ease back in to gardening. These included raised bedding to minimise having to bend down and using lightweight tools to avoid straining and making tasks easier. Feeling inspired by the basket planting Jeff decided to have a go at growing some herbs in raised containers. A great way to end a really uplifting session showing how gardening can help everyone.

If you are interested in a bespoke session delivered by Thrive please contact training@thrive.org.uk

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