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Garden program at Mansfield Juvenile Treatment Center is celebrated

Date: 11/21/2017

The recent event celebrating the Let’s G.R.O.W (Growing Redefines Our Worth) educational initiative at the Mansfield Juvenile Treatment Center included smiles, laughter, and even tears.     

The event, which promoted healthy eating habits and the benefits of growing produce, was spearheaded by the Department of Human Services Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education Health and Nutrition Unit, as part of the National Farm-to-School month project.

Division staff joined students, center staff, community partners, a U.S. Department of Agriculture representative, and Mansfield residents in celebrating the success and holistic impact of the center’s garden. The center is run by the DHS Division of Youth Services.

“The undoubted highlight of the event was bonding with the students and planting seeds in their garden,” said Program Manager Mariska Jordan. “Helping students plant the garden, it was surprisingly life changing for me because of their keen interest and the excitement on their faces.”

Aside from planting vegetable seeds, the team also had a lunch that featured food that was previously harvested from the garden.

“The students really seemed to love us being there,” said Child Care Specialist Leah Johannes. “In fact, one young lady was so happy that we brought them new gardening tools to use and seeds to plant that she asked us to come back soon to see the garden and visit with them once again. To see the students’ faces and smiles melted my heart; knowing we made a small impact on their life that day.”                           

For Division staff, the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the center’s students was the most rewarding part of Let’s G.R.O.W.

“I became emotional listening to one particular student speak,” Jordan said. “While the young lady was explaining what the garden meant to her, I realized this event was bigger than what I had originally intended for it to be. I was focused on awarding the center for doing such a great job and maintaining a garden. However, I received an award, too. My award occurred when I thought of how I played an indirect role in that young lady’s life. The feeling was priceless."

Arkansas Department
of Human Services
(501) 682-1001

TTY: 1-800-285-1131 or dial 711 for Arkansas Relay Service

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