Every year many children are diagnosed with a physical or mental disability. These children like to garden too, and we as a society have the opportunity to create something the children can build on. Planning a garden for children can be a very rewarding undertaking, but we have to be mindful to keep costly mistakes to a minimum. Everybody should have some input into this project, from medical care practitioners, rehabilitation staff, to the parents.
Let’s not overlook the input from the child because he or she may have some excellent ideas. Also, this generates eagerness and commitment toward the project. The purpose of planning this childrens garden is introducing new opportunities for physical exercise, mental stimulation, and social interaction. We need to be aware of the age of the child or age ranges of children we are planning the garden for, also if we want to achieve the following:
- Improve the present environment
- Develop gardening as a hobby
- Encourage physical activity
- Teach the basics of plant and animal life and care
- Create the opportunity to talk one-on-one in an outdoor environment
- Inspire visual gratitude of nature.
How to Ensure a Good Growing Season and Positive Experience for the Child
- Always watch the sun movement in conjunction with a sunny- or shade-loving plant’s placement. A vegetable garden should be grown in a north-south direction for optimum sun exposure.
- Ensure to shelter from the sun (UVR) and wind exposure; a comfortable outside environment will attract the child outdoors.
- Recognize and be aware that the child will be sensitive to light and temperature differences.
- Security is of great importance and you may face the possibility of animal damage.
- Purchase low-allergen shrubs or trees that attract pollinators (butterflies, bees, birds) to the garden.
- Be mindful of plants that are fragrant if there is a sensitivity to smells.
- Incorporate plants that can be dried and brought indoors for craft projects.
- Look at installing a raised bed garden for easy accessibility.
- Situate bird feeding stations which can be observed from different windows.
- Create social or shaded work corners using benches, chairs, or wooden structures.
There is no greater joy than seeing plants flowering and reaching for the sun as they sway gently in the breeze. All children regardless of their level of disability can be filled with the wonder of nature and pride in participating in the garden.
The disability may limit the child’s involvement, but even holding a watering hose will allow them to feel a part of the gardening experience. Introduce children to the joys of the earth and watch their reactions as they get their hands dirty. Let them help grow beautiful flowers or the bounty of nutritious vegetables.
Gardening knows no bounds!