After 25 years of creating music videos and designing album artwork, Glenn Sweitzer of Fresh Film+Design is turning his attention to a new endeavor: a charity.
“Starting a charity to help people find healing and wellness in nature was never a goal of mine,” he explains. “I wasn’t even a major backpacker or camper for much of my life.”
Everything began to change in May 2018 when Sweitzer initiated a documentary project called Trail Mix. In the film, he records encounters with thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail, many of whom found healing and solace from their troubles through immersion in nature.
“It’s funny, in doing all this filming, I didn’t realize it was going to change me so much. I became more content, but I craved the outdoors. I couldn’t get enough of camping,” he says.
Inspired by his own experience and the stories of those making the 2,190-mile trek, Sweitzer began exploring the healing properties of nature. After watching his own mother live out her final days in an assisted living home facility (and later hospice care), Sweitzer became inspired to bring seniors out to experience the healing properties of nature.
“Nature experiences simply don’t exist for seniors,” he explains. “I was researching what programs are out there for seniors to breathe the fresh air, do horticulture, and touch the dirt. I found probably 30 studies describing the benefits of nature. But then I looked for the programs, and there were none.”
While it’s common knowledge that dirt is full of microbes, recent studies have found that some soil bacteria functions similarly to antidepressants, stimulating the release of serotonin in the brain. “I know people are healing out there,” says Sweitzer. “Now the question is why – an idea I’m now exploring with Nature Bound, our senior program.”
Nature Bound takes seniors on three-hour excursions to the outdoors, providing opportunities for them to not only connect with nature, but also create memories with loved ones. To learn more about Trails Please Foundation and Nature Bound, one of the organization’s three programs connecting individuals with the healing properties of outdoor experience, visit https://www.trailsplease.org/.