Give STL Day is coming up on Wednesday, May 10, and we’re embarking on a very important, exciting project – a sensory garden.
The grounds behind Miriam High School will be transformed into a beautiful garden area.
It’s not just for looks, though – far from it. This will be a specialized garden to appeal to the senses, plus an outdoor occupational therapy area that will benefit Miriam’s unique learners in a wide variety of ways.
The garden will offer everything from sensory input to therapy, relaxation to education – and all proceeds from this year’s Give STL Day will help make it a reality.
Cited benefits of special needs gardening include improved motor skills, enhanced creativity, increased social skills and improved self-confidence. Gardening also reduces stress and helps children cope with anxiety and frustration.
Take a look at many of the ways this type of garden can stimulate the senses:
Sound – To stimulate hearing, we’ll choose plant flora that make noise when the wind passes through them, such as bamboo stems. Many seedpods make interesting sounds as well and the end of season leaves provide a fun, crunching sound under feet. We will also include plants that encourage wildlife in the garden.
Touch – There is no shortage of plants that offer interesting textures, perfect for encouraging the sense of touch. From the baby-soft feel of a something like a lamb’s ear to the irresistible sensation of plants like cool moss or the brush of rough seedpods, it is possible to incorporate many different textures into
Smell – The sense of smell is extremely memorable, and aromas easily find their place in our memory banks. Most sensory gardens are full of mingling aromas that entice a wide range of emotions. Highly aromatic plants, such as the sweet-smelling gardenia, honeysuckle, herbs, and spices, provide many opportunities for stimulation.
Sight – Adding visual interest to a sensory garden is achieved by using plants with varying habits such as those that creep, climb, trail, bush, or stand upright. Incorporating plants with different bloom, leaf, bark, and stem colors provide visual appeal as well.
Taste – Edible fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices planted in a sensory garden allow visitors an opportunity to experience nature’s bounty while enticing their taste buds.
For other types of sensory input and therapy, the garden will eventually include equipment such as a balance beam, chin-up bar, push-up station, balance board seat, and a rock-climbing wall. The garden area will also include swings, made possible by generous supporters on Giving Tuesday 2022.
Research shows that many developmental and primary tasks for children and teens can be effectively achieved through outdoor play, including exploring, risk-taking, and fine and gross motor development.
Outdoor occupational play therapy also provides proprioception and vestibular input – establishing where they are in space and regulating balance – two vital types of input for those who have sensory processing challenges.
The entire project will occur in three phases, and Miriam staff and students cannot wait to get started. Please support this very big – but extremely important – project on Give STL Day. Or, donate early by clicking here.