A Special Garden for Special Kids

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It is always a pleasure to learn about good ideas and about people who decide to do some good for someone else's, not their own sake. That was why the news about this good and nice project — a sensory garden on the territory of the boardinghome for children with special needs — made me happy. St Elisabeth Convent has been catering for this boarding home for many years.
Winter does not look like the perfect season for starting a new garden. However, the sisters have a lot to do during winter: plan everything in detail in order to use up all the land and to create something very special and unforgettable for the young patients of the boarding home. It must be a wonderful gift to these kids who spend so little time outdoors and know so little about the nature!

It was Alyona Ovlashevich (she works in the boarding home and at the same time studies towards a degree in landscape design) who came up with the idea to establish the sensory garden. St Elisabeth Convent supported her initiative.

"There is a vacant plot of land on the territory of the boarding home. It caught my attention some time ago," Alyona says. "We are going to improve it and transform it into a sensory garden next spring. I am certain that it will bring a lot of positive feelings and new discoveries to our children!

A sensory garden is a plot where everything is organised in a certain way and serves certain purposes. It is organised in such a way as to create beneficial surroundings to get in touch with nature - an opportunity that so many of big city dwellers find missing. Such gardens have become very popular in schools and hospitals of many European countries. So we try to adopt this new trend now. Scholars today even speak of the so called "garden therapy." Nature may help to improve one's health and mood, to let a person feel harmony, develop their personality and discover the world around them."
For a child, each day is filled up with some interesting and important discoveries. Gradually, step by step, they learn about the world that surrounds them. Nature plays an important role in the children's upbringing and education. A sensory garden gives them an opportunity to get to know it better. Each visitor does not only observe it but also actively participates in the fascinating encounter with nature.

Alyona smiles, "We won't tell you everything we have in mind but I promise that children will like our garden! It will be beautiful, safe and useful at the same time. We will plan everything meticulously so that the children with learning difficulties would feel comfortable and secure.

We plan to use materials, plants and objects that help one to fully perceive the beauty of the natural environment. Our young patients will be able to look at the beautiful plants, smell their scents, and much more. A sensory garden is a place where visitors are allowed and even encouraged to interact with the environment. They can touch the plants and even taste some of them. We plan to plant some edible plants, like strawberries or ornamental apple trees, for that purpose. We are going to set up some benches in the yard where people could sit and relax and enjoy the nature. We will also dig out a small pond and a waterfall where people will see the water run and hear it pour. We will use fragrant herbs for the lawn, such as mint, balm, sage, mother-of-thyme, etc. Natural scents are also a source of joy and an excellent mood.

                                                         Written by Tatiana Shimko