Secrets Of The Garden Shared With Children With Disabilities

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MOUNTAINSIDE — For the past six weeks, children with developmental disabilities had the opportunity to learn about horticulture at Union County’s Trailside Nature and Science Center.

The Union County Department of Parks and Community Renewal, in collaboration with the Master Gardeners of Union County and Autism Family Tours with Brianna, based in Scotch Plains, developed the program that involved Saturday morning classes at Trailside.  On a recent Saturday, members of the Master Gardeners opened their small arboretum in the Watchung Reservation.  During the morning visit, the children had a chance to see and touch and smell the flowers, shrubs and trees that have been cultivated in the small oasis.

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The visit was part of a six-week program designed to teach horticulture to the children, many them autistic, through hands-on projects using plants and planting activities.  Accompanied by a Master Gardener, the youngsters followed a trail through the garden, stopping at various points along the way.

The first stop was a tree for youngsters to touch and learn that trees have many different types of bark and that they may have leaves or needles.  The trail continued through the garden, weaving through various sections, along with stops along the way where the Master Gardeners would ask the youngsters about what they could see and hear and feel while they were in the garden.

“It was wonderful,” said Ruth O’Brien, a New Providence resident and one of the Master Gardeners who volunteered for the program.

SHARING THEIR GARDEN…members of the Master Gardeners of Union County recently hosted youngsters with developmental disabilities at their small arboretum in the Watchung Reservation.  During the morning visit,  the children had a chance to see and touch and smell the flowers, shrubs and trees that have been cultivated in the small oasis.  The visit was part of a six-week program designed to teach horticulture to the children, many of them autistic,, through hands-on projects using plants and planting activities.  Accompanied by a Master Gardener, the youngsters followed a trail through the garden, stopping at various points along the way.  The Saturday morning program was done in collaboration with the Union County Department of Parks and Community Renewal, Rutgers Cooperative Extension  and Autism Family Tours with Brianna, based in Scotch Plains.

 

TAKING IT ALL IN…After sitting in silence for a few minutes to hear all the birds that visit their garden, Ruth O’Brien, a Union County Master Gardener, points out some of the different trees and flowers to Dean Logus of Scotch Plains. Members of the Master Gardeners volunteered to teach horticulture to children with developmental disabilities. While some of the program was held at the Trailside Nature and Science Center, on this Saturday morning the Master Gardeners invited the youngsters to experience the garden they have grown in the reservation.   “It was wonderful,” said O’Brien, a New Providence resident.

THIS BARK DIDN’T BITE…but it did have a unique feel to Brianna Bardwil of Scotch Plains.  As part of a program to teach horticulture to youngsters with developmental disabilities, members of Union County Master Gardeners created a path through their garden in the Watchung Reservation.  The first stop was a tree for youngsters to touch and learn that trees have many different types of bark and that they may have leaves or needles.  The trail continued through the garden, weaving through various sections, along with stops along the way where the Master Gardeners would ask the youngsters about what they could see and hear and feel while they were in the garden.


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