Article originally published in French on the LinkedIn website on March 31, 2022
At the time I got the diagnosis of cancer in 2008, did I know what that would bring me to?
Did I have any idea what I was getting into when I decided to create the Forget for a Moment Foundation in 2012?
Did I have any idea ten years ago how challenging it would be to bring Nature into healthcare settings?
I was lucky enough to grow up near a forest and to marvel every day at the extraordinary joy, well-being and calm that nature brought me. The only certainty I had, in the depressing waiting room in which I waited to be diagnosed, was that the presence of Nature in a hospital could soothe thousands of patients, caregivers, and staff as it had delighted my entire childhood.
Fear, apprehension about the future, and loneliness affect many people in hospitals. But two categories of people particularly concerned me: children and the elderly. Many of them are unable to enjoy nature outside because of their health condition or some other obstacle beyond their control. Those were the people I hoped to help…
Forget for a moment..
No one person can do a project of this magnitude alone. You need people who believe in you and in your idea; people who support you and back you up when the going gets tough. Thankfully, once I decided to go ahead with this innovative idea, I was fortunate enough to meet the right people along the way. It was magical and it still is today!
Our Foundation and our projects would not have been possible without the help of our founding members, all our volunteers, and companies who have been involved with the Foundation since its inception. Nor can we forget all our donors and partners, and our current Board of Directors.
From 2012 to the end of 2015, our Foundation worked extensively with the Montréal Children's Hospital (MCH) and their foundation on a project that unfortunately did not come to fruition. But this enriching experience gave us the necessary energy and determination to bring nature into healthcare facilities. We also owe it to the administrators of the Outaouais CISSS in Gatineau, Québec and to the administrators of the Montfort Hospital in Ottawa, Ontario and their foundations. They have been at the forefront of those who agreed to collaborate with us.
I am therefore extremely grateful to the Outaouais Integrated Health and Social Services Centre (CISSSO) in Gatineau for having approached our Foundation in 2016 to see if we could consider building a living wall in one of its CHSLDs (Residential and Long-Term Care Centers). As this proposal fit within the scope of our mission and vision, we decided we decided to explore this option.
In January 2017, the residents of the CHSLD Ernest-Brisson in Gatineau, were able to, for the first time, enjoy nature without having to venture outside. Despite the harshness of winter, they were able to appreciate day after day all the benefits that only nature can provide.
The living wall’s undeniable benefits to the residents, their loved ones and to their caregivers led to the construction of a 2nd wall in March 2020. In partnership with the Fondation Santé Gatineau, this project saw light of day in the CHSLD Lionel-Émond in Gatineau. In the midst of a pandemic, this living nature was extremely appreciated by all.
The summer of 2021 saw the arrival of our first living wall in Ontario, the first of its kind in Canada. It is located in the waiting room of the Services for Seniors program at the Orléans Health Hub, a unique and innovative facility model that brings together a range of specialized and community-based care under one roof, in Orléans, a suburb of Ottawa. We are proud that once again, seniors, their loved ones and caregivers can enjoy the benefits of nature.
All the work accomplished during these ten years was an enormous challenge, and a road strewn with unforgettable experiences, ups and downs, but ALL TOGETHER, we have succeeded and it was really worth it!
Today, in 2022, there are people in healthcare centres that can benefit of nature all year long. Their winter season is different now, and so it will be for all the years to come. To see the positive impact of nature’s benefits on all is so gratifying!
One day, I am certain, children will also benefit by access to nature inside their healthcare settings.
The lesson to be learned: Life is our greatest teacher and, sometimes she decides for us. Once we open ourselves to other possibilities, anything can happen!
I am enormously grateful for all those who believed in me, in our Foundation and in this innovative idea, and to everyone who supported us over the years. Without all of you, our Foundation would not be where we are today in 2022.
What's next? .... Other living walls and a new project, different from the living walls, but still linked to Nature. We are currently working on it...
A BIG THANK YOU!