Last Thursday we opened the Opkikkerpad (“Boost path”), and since then I´ve been on radio (Radio2, Nostalgie) and TV (AVS) in Flanders. What is all this fuss about?
Clearly nature´s importance for wellbeing has been finally noticed in Flanders and we at NatureMinded could not be happier. The fuss about the Opkikker pad has probably to do with the fact that it includes the very mindful connecting with nature, “Scandinavian origins” and a funny name.
But truth be told, the original “Voimapolku” (Strength path), was created by Kalevi Korpela in Finland´s Ikaalinen in 2010. Since then it´s been loosely replicated in Finland, Sweden, France, Luxembourg and now Belgium. The paths have also been tested on people and found to work. They are especially promising in environments where you have noise, eye sores and other things that might keep you from enjoying your nature experience. They also remind us to slow down and enjoy what´s around us. It´s essentially forest bathing, without a guide.
But Opkikkerpad is the second of our NatureMinded creations. The first one is not yet open. Late last year me and my colleague Henrik spent two months testing the Veerkrachtpad (Resilience path) in Borgwal Ortho-Agogisch Center. There we tested on people what the effect of the path would be. I can´t tell you the results yet because the report is being translated as we speak before we hand it in to CM who financed the whole study. But, based on the results, I can say that people in Flanders can benefit from such paths that remind them to slow down and to smell the roses.
The nice thing about Opkikkerpad in Puyenbroeck is that it´s a longer route, there are couple of alternative lengths to choose from and most paths are accessible to wheelchair users. The negative points are that you are almost the entire time on paved road. However, it´s a very quiet part of Puyenbroeck where you can also often spot deer! The fact that you can take the folders with exercises with you, means that people get to try them out also in other environments, even in their own gardens. And so the magic of mindfully connecting with nature spreads across Flanders…
And Veerkrachtpad is something different. The domain is smaller, there´s only one route, so the exercises that are fixed in place really lenghten your stay in the forest that you would otherwise walk through in a matter of minutes. And there is a forest feeling there, also because you walk on the soft and squishy ground. You can also really smell the forest, because of the moistness of the environment. And the trees are magnificent and old! It´s an over 300 year old forest with such diversity of trees. I can assure you, every season in Borgwal is worth visiting! As is Puyenbroeck, of course.
But enough about writing about it. I invite you to check out the path in Puyenbroeck and make sure to visit Borgwal after the opening on the 8th of September. Afterall, Borgwal is where everything started.