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'A little sanctuary’: Antigonish community comes together to create Buddy Bench at RK MacDonald nursing home

Kim Cameron-MacDonald (upper left), Francis Grenier, Emma MacDonald, Mary Grace, Mary Partridge, Diane Delorey (bottom left), Donna MacLean, Mary Margaret Grace and Sadie Hadley – all enjoying the fine weather with the Buddy Bench – the newest addition to the garden area of the RK MacDonald Nursing Home.
Kim Cameron-MacDonald (upper left), Francis Grenier, Emma MacDonald, Mary Grace, Mary Partridge, Diane Delorey (bottom left), Donna MacLean, Mary Margaret Grace and Sadie Boyd – all enjoying the fine weather with the Buddy Bench – the newest addition to the garden area of the RK MacDonald Nursing Home. - Sam Macdonald

Buddy Bench brightens up new gardens at the local nursing home

A new, colourful addition adorns the garden area of the RK MacDonald nursing home.

The bench is hard to miss. The bright yellow bench is decorated in the rainbow-coloured handprints of several generations of people and is the product of a partnership between members of Antigonight: Art After Dark Festival, staff and residents of RK MacDonald and youth from the local Montessori School.

“It took a lot of priming and painting to get that beautiful yellow that is there now,” Emma MacDonald, festival director for Antigonight, said, describing how the handprints belong to several generations of Antigonishers.

“We also wanted to use a lot of bright, primary colours for the handprints. We wanted to incorporate an inter-generational piece to this community art project."

The rainbow of handprints belong to residents of the RK MacDonald Nursing Home, their children and even their grandchildren, with many of the children eagerly covering their hands in paint to leave their mark.

“The Montessori school has been a regular visitor with us, once a week, with the little kids from their space on Hawthorne Street coming to visit a lot,” Cameron-MacDonald, director of recreation, spiritual and volunteers, said.

“We started talking about how we wanted to create a project for the new garden we have out back."

The bench, she added, is a welcome part of the facility's dementia sensory healing garden.

Horticulture therapist Mary Partridge says the dementia sensory healing garden is a “little sanctuary” designed to be “a healing space and a stimulating space, to go out and feel closer to nature.”

Partridge described the garden as “very accessible,” with six-foot wide walkways and plenty of room for people who use wheelchairs to manoeuver.

With a pergola and a number of growing plants already set up, Partridge added there will be plenty of shade in the garden.

The plants are specifically suited as butterfly and songbird habitat so the garden will have plenty of aesthetically-pleasing wild visitors.

Partridge noted that there are also features such as a water wall and fencing planned to complete the intended atmosphere of the garden.

Partridge applauded the Buddy Bench, adding that the colourful appearance and application as a place to sit and enjoy nature meshed very well with the purpose of the garden.


Did you know?

The garden at the RK MacDonald is not the only place the Buddy Bench will be making an appearance. At upcoming Antigonight: Art After Dark events, such as the Community showcase, the bench will be brought to the library and various locations of art projects around town.

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