St Nicks

Centre for nature and green living

Mental Health Awareness Week – Connecting to Nature through Writing

Nature walk for ecotherapy

This blog has been written by the leader of our Creative Writing course, Emma Mckenzie. The creative writing course is one of the ways our Ecotherapy project may help those suffering from mental ill health.

Ecotherapy recognises that being in green spaces and connecting to nature can be good for our mental health and wellbeing. The programme is open to everyone and provides opportunities to connect to nature.

The creative writing courses are run by Emma Mckenzie who works for Converge and the Discovery Hub based at York St John University. Emma is an occupational therapist by background and is currently completing an MA in creative writing. Emma has a long standing interest in both writing and nature so getting involved in the Ecotherapy programme was the perfect way to combine two interests whilst helping others to improve their wellbeing.

The aim of the creative writing courses are to use St Nick’s reserve as a start point of inspiration for writing themes. Each week starts with a short walk around the reserve before the group comes back into the centre to work on four writing tasks using observation of the landscape taken on the walk.

Throughout the session there is the opportunity to share what has been written, this often generates interesting observations, story sharing and beautiful descriptions of the reserve. You will find some examples on this page.

It seems that each week we identify something new and have learnt so much about nature and the reserve over the two years that the courses have run. Some of the questions that arise from writing are often funny too such as – Do spiders have noses?

Discover Nature waxwings

It was our ‘Discover Nature’ ecotherapy group who noticed waxwings were visiting St Nicks at the end of February 2017

The creative writing courses are a great example of using nature to improve wellbeing and to work in a mindful way discovering the natural beauty of the reserve, enjoying nature, whilst at the same time building new friendships and reducing isolation. The staff at St Nicks are all extremely approachable and friendly making it an excellent venue for this type of work and a warm welcoming atmosphere for anyone new to the sessions.

Waxwing visit on 28 February 2017

Waxwing visiting on 28 February 2017

The courses have proved to be an excellent way of connecting people through nature whilst developing writing skills and interest in the reserve. The next course will start on the 7th of June and is entitled ‘Poetry and Picnics’. The course will run for six weeks during which time course members will be supported to develop written sketches of the reserve that we will then turn into poetry during the session. Members of the course are invited to bring a picnic to enjoy after the session.

For more information about the Ecotherapy programme or to sign up to the next creative writing course contact:

Emma will be talking about the Ecotherapy Creative Writing Progamme during the upcoming Converge end of term performance and showcasing some of the work that has been produced as part of the course. For more details please email

11 May 2017 | Categories: Inspiration, Uncategorized