Long-term care home in Saskatoon plants hundreds of sunflowers to raise spirits of residents

·2 min read
Nurse Susan Dyck created The Sunshine Project to bring a little hope to the residents of Sherbrooke Community Centre. (Eric Anderson - image credit)
Nurse Susan Dyck created The Sunshine Project to bring a little hope to the residents of Sherbrooke Community Centre. (Eric Anderson - image credit)

What began as a tribute to a well-known elder at the Sherbrooke Community Centre has snowballed into an initiative that will see a field of flowers bloom around the care home.

This spring, nurse Susan Dyck began handing out tiny cups of soil to the residents on her floor. Anyone who wanted to could plant a sunflower, which would then be transplanted outside around the building.

Word of the project quickly spread. It was named The Sunshine Project.

"As I started talking about it with the other elders on the floor, it just kind of seemed like it was a natural progression to just plant more," said Dyck.

"Then I thought, if our floor could do it, why not have everybody in the building join in?"

The project was started in memory of Jodi Grant, a well-known resident of Sherbrooke and a cornerstone of the IGen program, which pairs people living in the centre with elementary school students.

"She was also known as Dr. Sunshine," she said.

"She gravitated toward the sun and I kind of saw her a sunflower herself. And so kind of told her that we would plant out sunflowers for her and she would be the original sunflower."

Dycksaid sunflowers are a perfect plant for the project. They're large enough for residents to easily see outside their windows and hearty enough that the plants are likely to survive. She said she's become notorious at local seed shops, instantly clearing them out of their supply of sunflower seeds.

Nurse Susan Dyck preparing sunflower seedlings with a resident of Sherbrooke Community Centre.
Nurse Susan Dyck preparing sunflower seedlings with a resident of Sherbrooke Community Centre.(Eric Anderson)

The program has been a welcome distraction during COVID-19, when many residents were restricted in their movement outside the building.

"People really came together and everybody was kind of pulling in the same direction," she said.

"These sunflowers are very representative of looking for brighter times and being hopeful and bold and bright."

People in Saskatoon should be able to see the project's end result when the flowers bloom later this year.

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