When picturing New York City, most people imagine glittering glass skyscrapers, miles of sidewalks and large crowds of busy tourists and residents. Gardens and green spaces don’t usually come to mind. But in a place like NYC, how important are green spaces or gardens when there are so many other things to do? Significantly important. Which is why at each of CUCS’ buildings, we have ensured that there is ample outdoor space for our clients.
The various gardens, terraces, rooftop spaces, and patios at each of our supportive and transitional housing communities provide much more than just decoration or a place to read a book. These spaces offer a private place where our clients can learn how to nurture a vegetable or flower garden, host get-togethers for holidays, and socialize with each other in a safe and comfortable environment.
While offering a beautiful view is one perk of a thriving rooftop garden, there are also many documented benefits to regular access to green spaces. A five-year study from University of Exeter found that people who moved closer to ample green space within an urban area showed higher mental health scores than they had reported the previous year. More greenery and accessible green spaces led individuals to be happier and have lower levels of depression and anxiety than in their previous, less green locations. Furthermore, improvements in scores continued for years, even when the influence of income and employment were factored out.
For those of our clients who struggle with mental illness, the simple act of tending to a garden can offer significant benefits. Using many established programs as examples, we know that tending to a community garden can offer cognitive benefits such as enhanced mood and improved concentration, as well as providing a social group for clients to immerse themselves in. These social groups help clients cooperate to achieve their goals of a successful garden, as well as help them focus individually on their own skills and hopes rather than their symptoms.
With this many benefits, it is obvious why CUCS takes such pride in the amazing rooftop gardens, terraces and green spaces in the many communities we work with.