In the very near future, the Mennonite Heritage Village Museum will be helping folks in southeastern Manitoba deal with mental health issues.

The wellness initiative project has already begun. MHV Executive Director Gary Dyck says, work has started on a trail that will circumnavigate the whole pond, “and we’re excited about that”.

In a written quote by Gary Dyck he says,

“We have known for a long time that health and well-being is more than doctors, hospitals and the formal health care system. Every part of our environment – family, friends, employment, social activity, music, art, education and many other areas contribute to our mental and physical well-being. However, when it comes to healing and mental health, people don’t usually think about the museum as an important or relevant source. Even a cursory review of well-being literature indicates that museums contribute a lot to mental health and wellbeing.

The Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) has as a new initiative to research and develop a way of ‘Museum as Therapy’. The identified target audience is local residents who have mental health needs, ranging from mild anxiety to depression. The objective is to partner with local health agencies and establish a way that MHV can help some of their clients.”

Dyck says they are publishing a “Wellness Guide” that will be made available to anyone who wants to have a therapeutic museum visit.

“This is intended to be just a kind of different perspective to slowing down. This trail around the pond will be like a two or three-kilometre trail, going from the woods of the museum there near the pond, around the pond and through the Peace garden, that's being built right now. And so, that's what I'm excited about, that development there will be happening this fall and spring next year it will be ready.”

Dyck continues, “We hope to be planting some more trees out by the pond and we'll have to make some kind of land bridge on the south side, where the road is the Gulfair Road, so people can cross there and then it'll go around the pond, and it will come up to the Berlin Wall. Then we'll connect it to the Peace Garden and then through the woods a bit and back to the pond. We are just excited about this Wellness initiative."

As to who the MHV will be reaching out to first, Dyck says, "We’ll be giving some passes to Eden Health to give to their clients and then to anyone who needs it, to come and just kind of help to reduce the agitation and anxiety these times can bring. I always see it every time, people come into the museum and then when they come out, they just look much more relaxed and just that refreshment has come.”