A Win-Win for Wellness: Annual Hike for Hospice Supporting Local Palliative Care

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Submitted by Christina Mereu, Bruce Peninsula Hospice Client Care Volunteer 

I feel so fortunate to live among trees, see waterscapes whenever I please and hear bird song from the quiet of my porch.  This year of COVID has confirmed for me the power of beauty and nature to keep me well and healthy and in fine spirit.  Who among us has not been lifted by a walk in the woods, a witnessing of a rainbow, a timely glimpse of a burst of new growth where you least expect it?  Maybe you are unable to be out-and-about and you marvel at the birds and the buds from your window. There is something about the natural world that restores us, settles our nerves and makes us feel healthy and good.   

A recent chat with Rob Klea, a Tobermory nature enthusiast, helped me understand what physically happens to our bodies when we step into nature.  Research shows that 20-30 minutes in the natural world drops our cortisol levels reducing stress, and that improves our focus, our mood, our heart health and so much more.  Studies have found that three hours in nature will measurably improve our immune system for the next few days.  Mother Nature gifts us in so many ways with her teachings, her participation in those aha moments, and her power to nurture health and generate new beginnings.

As a volunteer with Bruce Peninsula Hospice, I have come to realize that our work in the community of providing at-home hospice palliative care is all about living and wellness.  Some of you may think that hospice care and bereavement support is all about death and dying but I challenge you on this with an invitation to shift perspective.  Yes, we are invited into that special circle of care for those dying at home; yes, we offer opportunities to those bereaved to share their grief with others who are bereaved; yes, we have resources to facilitate important conversations about your final wishes; but I have come to see all of this as life-giving.  To hear someone’s personal story is life-giving, to provide respite to a primary care giver is life-giving, to be a quiet, compassionate presence for another is life-giving.  We, at Bruce Peninsula Hospice, are all about wellness wherever you are on life’s journey.

Annual Hike for Hospice Campaign – May 2nd to 30th

With wellness in mind, we encourage you to make a connection with nature and take a healthy step into self care and well-being. For eight years now we have invited you to walk with us and to help us raise funds in our annual Hike for Hospice campaign running from May 2nd to May 30th. Our yearly goal of raising $30,000 is achievable with your help. This year is no different…well…maybe a little different.  We have expanded our thinking and have come up with some new ideas to inspire you into action.

Whatever you do that keeps you healthy and happy is your way in to participation this year.  For example, one of our Hike for Hospice teams, the Dream Chasers, has challenged each other to ride their ‘trusted steeds’ a designated distance over some weeks.  Yet another team has a member less able to get outside but loves bird watching so she is doing a bird count.  

It all starts when you join/put together a team and start collecting your pledges in support of Bruce Peninsula Hospice.  To register or pledge go to      www.bphospice.ca/hikeforhospice or phone us at 519-534-1260 ext. 5612 if you need help to get started.  

However you choose to participate we ask that you send in a photo of your activity to [email protected]   Your name will be entered into a draw basket.  Prizes include a boat tour with Blue Heron Boat Tours, an artisanal quilt, gift certificates and more. So, take a step into nature and give yourself the gift of wellness. 

At Bruce Peninsula Hospice we are proud of our successes and we carry on because we have passion for what we do and we have you, our community, holding us up.  Win-Win situations are always worth celebrating with a shout from the roof top… and feel-good opportunities are much needed in these COVID times.  

Bruce Peninsula Hospice is a charitable organization located at 365 Mary Street, Wiarton, ON N0H 2T0