Kim Stoddart published an article in 2016 showcasing how the powerful impact of gardening helped her son diagnosed with ASD blossom. The California team here at New Directions saw the potential benefit a community garden would bring to our clients, and partnered with the local Orchard Supply Hardware store to make that dream a reality.
As Stoddart references in her article, most non-neurotypical students are happiest outdoors. Gardening allows for a sensory stimulating environment that aids in stress relief, helps build self-esteem by seeing the fruits of one’s labor, and encourages an all-around healthier lifestyle.
The garden has already been a useful tool in helping our clients at New Directions be more aware of their stress and agitation levels, as visiting it has become a popular request of mentors from clients in a bad mood. It has also given our clients newfound confidence and opportunity, as some have decided to explore careers in the horticulture industry with our vocational coordinator.
The California team here at New Directions could not be happier with how the community garden project turned out. The clients are excited to see their vegetables and herbs grow, and cannot wait to begin incorporating them into cooking groups this summer!