Therapy in the garden is giving children the opportunity to grow.
The initiative at Sutherland’s Sylvanvale, aims to provide youth of all abilities with experience in therapeutic horticulture.
It comes thanks to a $40,000 grant from nib foundation, which established an inclusive classroom to help tackle social isolation experienced by children and their families affected by a disability.
Through simple outdoor activities they use the garden as a way of connecting to the natural environment.
As part of the program, they will receive hands-on and theory lessons from a qualified horticulture therapist. Together they grow and prepare food in the outdoor kitchen within the grounds.
From composting, worm farming and growing citrus fruits, to learning about succulents, seed raising and bush tucker, the lessons are available to children aged between 5 and 17, the program is run after school and during school holidays.
It gives children the creative space to strengthen their emotional and physical well-being by building healthy lifestyles.
Nib foundation executive officer Amy Tribe says youth will develop an improved awareness and knowledge of nutrition and healthy eating habits, will increase their social connections and improve their communication and physical ability.
“Therapeutic horticulture has proven social, psychological and physical benefits for vulnerable people including those with disabilities,” she said.
“The program is a great way to help tackle the lack of social connections and poor health that are common issues that disproportionately affect people with disability.”
Children who also attend Sylvanvale’s After School Club, Saturday Club and Holiday Club will participate in lessons in the classroom, where they will learn about permaculture and nutrition.
The community is also invited to enjoy the space during open days and markets, which will give people the opportunity to sample produce, buy art and craft, and take part in a cooking class.