Jeremiah Program (JP) wants to create both an indoor and outdoor space for our families to interact with nature for stress reduction and well-being. A large body of research, including from the University of Minnesota and public health researchers Stamatakis and Mitchell, shows the value of being in nature. Simply being in nature can lower blood pressure, reduce stress, anxiety, and feelings of isolation (European Centre for Environment & Human Health, 2020). A study published by Psychiatric Nursing (2018) showed similar calming effects were created by having a garden.
JP partners with low-income Fargo-Moorhead student mothers and their young children. All families live in apartments on the JP campus, which also houses meeting spaces and the JP early childhood education center. Nationwide, CDC surveys shows a dramatic increase in stress due to COVID-19. The pandemic has made the already-difficult tasks of fulfilling families’ basic needs and prioritizing their post-secondary education even harder for JP moms to achieve. JP moms are facing multiple challenges including the loss of employment, transition to distance-learning course work, and the responsibility and cost of homeschooling their children. The necessity for social distancing has also led to increased stress and feelings of isolation. Beyond COVID-19, there is concern that stress-related illnesses will increase in the coming months and years, disproportionately effecting people of color and those in poverty. Jeremiah Program provides support for mental and physical health, and hopes that by creating these green spaces, moms and their kids can have additional opportunities for stress relief throughout the year.
Funded by Cass Clay (September 2020)