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Gardening Makes a Difference in the Lives of Our ClientsPosted Date: 07/16/2018
By: Mark Wargo
At the Southeast Arkansas Human Development Center we work with nearly 100 clients, who have a developmental disability. Our goal is to help residents learn independent living skills and grow as people.
Providing 24-hour care for clients, some of whom are far from their hometown, is not an easy task. Staff members depend heavily on one another for support as we give residents the service and compassion they deserve.
We work hard to find creative ways to help the residents grow and become as independent as possible. Our horticulture program, which teaches gardening skills, is among the projects that help our residents gain work opportunities and experience independence. Through the program, we’ve started a community garden that gives clients a route to develop independence by expanding their vocational skills as they help manage the garden. In fact, some of our clients have made money by selling items from the garden at local farmer’s markets.
At times I can’t tell who’s having more fun with the program, staff or our clients.
One resident, Tommy, is a great example of someone who has thrived while working on the garden project; he shows the worth of the garden project and what it offers to our clients.
During a class where participants learned to plant seeds, Tommy began showing others how to prepare planting cups and plant vegetable and flower seeds. He told everyone that he used to work on a farm when he was younger. Tommy got to show off his unique abilities while helping other clients develop valuable skills that may help them in future employment opportunities.
Tommy’s excitement and expertise was a powerful reminder that our residents are often our greatest allies in developing meaningful programs to cultivate independence. By observing and listening, we enjoyed a work opportunity that allowed Tommy to expand his presentation and teaching abilities, while his peers learned new gardening skills. Situations like that remind everyone of why our center exists and how we’re providing a great service to these wonderful Arkansans, while learning from our clients along the way.