Sensory Garden Brings Therapeutic Benefits to Park School Students

October 24, 2016

Teachers at the Park School in Evanston, Illinois are now able to conduct a broader range of therapeutic activities with their students thanks to a GRO1000 grant to build an on-site sensory garden.

gro1000-chicagoPark School is a public school and therapeutic day program for students, ages 3 through 22, with special needs. Park School students function in the moderate to profound range of intellectual disability and may also be multiple impaired, which may include a physical disability, visual impairment, deaf or hard of hearing, autism, or medically fragile. Park School provides a wide range of special services and therapies to support every student and his or her specific needs.

Park School first imagined a sensory garden as part of its year-round horticulture therapy program led by Clare Johnson, Horticulture Therapy Services Manager at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Johnson primarily used container gardens and potted plants to work with the students, but envisioned a larger, in-ground sensory garden that could enhance the students’ experiences.

And thanks to our company’s GRO1000 program and team of dedicated local volunteers from sales and our Germantown and Channahon manufacturing facilities, we helped make that dream a reality.

park-school-gro1000img_8196The new Park School Sensory Garden includes handicapped accessible raised beds and walkways, as well as plantings that heighten all of the senses. Students with limited cognitive and physical abilities will be able to see, smell, touch and hear the many colors, fragrances, textures and sounds from the garden.

“The Sensory Garden will extend the knowledge and learning experiences of our students and provide a way for every student to be included in our horticulture therapy programs,” said Marlene Grossman, Park School Principal. “It will also provide accessibility to a beautiful urban garden to all of the Evanston community for years to come.”

groimg_8167-1The Park School Sensory Garden event kicked off on Friday, October 14, with a volunteer work day, and the following day, October 15, the garden was dedicated. Area residents and youth joined ScottsMiracle-Gro volunteers and local leaders in garden-related plantings and activities to celebrate the new greenspace.