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First Grow Kindness Day promotes appreciation of people, plants

Event supports mental health, environmental awareness

During The Ohio State University’s first-ever Grow Kindness Day on March 24, several of the university’s units worked together to give out free succulent plants to members of the Buckeye community. Students, faculty and staff who participated received two succulent plants – one to keep for themselves and another to give to someone else. 

Grow Kindness Day was led by the Office of Student Life in collaboration with the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Ohio State Extension, Office of the Chief Wellness Officer and Buckeye Wellness, University Marketing and the University District Organization.

The program aims to teach that plants enhance one’s daily environment and kindness has health benefits as well, said Tracy Stuck with the Office of Student Life.

“If you put greenery in your office space or at home, it can help with your mental health,” she said. “And it’s something you can control – you have the ability to do it.”

A research review published in the Journal of Environmental Horticulture found caring for houseplants resulted in improvements in mood and cognition, reduced stress and enhanced overall well-being. Another study in the Journal of Psychological Anthropology found, “Interaction with indoor plants may reduce psychological and physiological stress by suppressing autonomic nervous system activity in young adults.”

Research shows that acts of kindness have also been shown to increase self-esteem, empathy and compassion and improve mood, Stuck said. 

“We know serotonin goes off in your body when you’re kind to someone else,” she said, “and that goes back to your mental health.”

On Grow Kindness Day, plants were distributed at several locations on Ohio State’s main campus in Columbus and the regional campuses. Altman Plants of Vista, Calif., donated the plants that were given out, and Scotts Miracle-Gro, headquartered in Marysville, Ohio, contributed the soil for the plants.

“We’ve been headquartered here (in central Ohio) for 154 years. This is the first time we’ve been able to do something like this with our friends here at Ohio State,” said Ann K. Aquillo, Scotts Miracle-Gro vice president of corporate affairs. “We’ve seen such a great embracing by students and millennials and the idea of indoor plants and being indoor plant ‘parents.’”

Isabel Biasella, a second-year Ohio State student, said she picked up a plant to help spruce up her environment.

“I think that plants are really beneficial to the air quality, and especially with allergy season,” she said. “Just having succulents and keeping something growing is always good for your mental health.”

Alexa Carper, a third-year student, said Grow Kindness Day offered the opportunity to indulge her love for plants.

“I’m a huge plant person. … This is probably like my tenth,” she said, cradling the new plant she received. “They make me happy, so I get more of them every time I can.”

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