Green thumbs help battle blues
A GARDENING program at child care centres is more than just a fun activity for youngsters - it's also helping prevent anxiety and depression.
The Gold Coast's Bonny Babes Childcare Centres owner Bonnie Fraser said gardening was introduced many years ago to help a child suffering with a mental health issue.
"More than 10 years ago, we had a child with very severe depression at one of our centres," she said.
"Research has shown that gardening therapy can help combat stress, anxiety and depression, so we introduced it."
Mrs Fraser said studies showed that the concentration used in gardening had a calming effect which helped to reduce stress and anxiety, while increasing dopamine levels.
"Our kindergarten and pre-prep children do a term of gardening, and they receive many benefits from outdoor play," she said.
"They love growing and making things in the garden, and they benefit in a range of ways.
"Outside play means the kids are using their bodies in different ways and interacting with natural mediums. This builds confidence, which is really important."
She said her centres at Coomera, Hope Island, Oxenford were committed to fostering children's cultural, spiritual and emotional needs.
They are open during the Commonwealth Games.