The Children's Institute Blog

Day School Students Grow as They Help Community Garden Flourish

Posted: Apr 26, 2017 by The Children's Institute

Something is blooming thanks to The Children’s Institute.

Since the beginning of this school year, a group of 10 young adults from The Children’s Institute’s Day School has been tending to a garden off-campus in Penn Hills as part of their adult prep work. Led by Occupational Therapy Assistant Tracey Weber, the students water seeds, till soil for plants, lug mulch, and do other heavy work at the community garden.

For one student with balance issues, the visits help teach how to walk on a variety of surfaces. For others, such as students with autism, the trips provide an opportunity for sensory input that helps them regulate emotions and learn new motor skills, Tracey said.

“But the main reason we go is that it’s meaningful,” Tracey said. “We’re able to be purposeful and give back to the community.”

In the long term, the visits also help students ages 18 to 21 with job skills they can use once they graduate, whether that means tending to a garden or volunteering with Grow Pittsburgh, which is involved at the site. Plain and simple: it also helps them get out and interact in the real world, Tracey said.

“There are other members of the community gardening in their beds, too,” Tracey said. “They’re developing relationships.”

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