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Nanaimo dementia care facility raising money for more trips down ‘Memory Lane’

Eden Gardens trying to raise $25,000 to pave loop trail through care centre’s grounds
Bianca van der Stoel, Eden Gardens horticultural therapist, left, Shirley Intermela and Jacquelyn Armstrong at the dementia care facility’s Memory Lane. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)

Staff at Eden Gardens hope people can donate money to ensure a forest trail will be paradise for residents, including those with accessibility issues.

The dementia care facility’s Memory Lane features benches, greenery, fresh air and the sound of wind chimes, and benefits residents, said Bianca van der Stoel, a horticultural therapy practitioner at Eden Gardens. However, the 75-metre trail is gravel and difficult for people with wheelchairs to traverse.

Previous plans to pave the trail fell through and a fundraiser has been launched with a goal of $25,000. The hardships are two-fold, said van der Stoel.

“First, on the side of the residents, I think what could be such a meditative, relaxing, purely positive experience is hindered slightly by that bumpy entry and that little bit of anxiety that might rise on the journey out here,” she said. “So what should be just 1,000 per cent therapeutic becomes a little bit less so from the bumpy ride.”

Additionally, van der Stoel say she can’t, in good conscience, allow volunteers and families to push a wheelchair along a path that puts them at risk for injury. Until it’s “really smooth and easy,” fewer people are able to come down Memory Lane, and an asphalt surface loop pathway is envisioned.

The trail does wonders for residents’ peace of mind, van der Stoel said.

“I come from this biased perspective of horticultural therapy, but the experiences I do have out here, when I’m able to safely bring somebody out are so much more therapeutic than an experience indoors … these immersive nature experiences break down those barriers of over-stimulation or apathy, or maybe the negative emotions that someone might feel and it is such a more therapeutic, open experience once we enter this space,” she said.

Shirley Intermela, a resident, said she enjoys spending time on Memory Lane.

“I love everything, I love [being out here],” she said.

Eden Gardens hopes to have the trail paved by spring or summer 2023.

To make a donation, go to

RELATED: Seniors care centre wants to make trail more accessible

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Karl Yu

About the Author: Karl Yu

I joined Black Press in 2010 and cover education, court and RDN. I am a Ma Murray and CCNA award winner.
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