Here's another post from our favorite guest blogger Sheryl Singleton Lynch. If you haven't seen her on Ability Fierce Episode 6 you can always check it out here: https://youtu.be/82gcLgJQ5Aw
Horticultural and Art Therapy for Learning Disabled Students in Queens
I first learned about Maureen Regan and Green Earth Urban Gardens on Facebook, where I saw a post promoting a talk she was giving at Queens College about Grassroots Environmental Activism and Social Justice. I was intrigued, so I went to hear Maureen talk about the various efforts she is spearheading. I was particularly interested in the horticultural therapy Maureen has been doing for the past nine years with students from the Lowell School in New York City borough of Queens.
The Lowell School has 150 students, all of them special needs kids with
some type of learning disability. Maureen meets with about 30 students on Mondays at the Quaker Meeting House in Flushing, where they work in the garden. The students have also been doing art, making dreamcatchers from materials found in nature.
On Friday, May 10th, the group got to showcase their talents for a wider audience. The occasion was a Unity Project event for It’s My Parks Day at the Olde Towne of Flushing Burial Ground. The students, along with teachers and members of the Burial Ground Conservancy, as well as the Queensboro Hill Flushing Civic Association participated in a clean-up of the grounds.
The dreamcatchers were on display in a central location. We learned the students had made them in response to hate crimes and school shootings in an effort to promote unity and diversity in their community and the world at large. State Senator John Liu, who worked as a councilman to restore the Burial Ground, attended the event.
The grounds received a blessing from Chief Little Fox, honoring the Mattinecock Nation, the First Nations Peoples that once lived along the shores of Long Island.
The weather was dreary, but people were in good spirits. I spoke with the Lowell School’s Vocational Coordinator, Meryl Mittleberg. She told me that horticultural therapy “absolutely” had benefits for her students. Ms. Mittleberg reported that they were calmer and able to take on and complete tasks they once would have found challenging. The students I met were upbeat and sociable, worked willingly and well. Some good energy was brought to that sacred space.
For more information about horticultural therapy, the Unity Project and Green Earth Urban Gardens, you can contact Maureen Regan at Maureen@greenearthurbangardens.org.