Students get introduction to horticultural therapy

Communication Manager for the Office of the County Administrator, Karen Pan, reported to Historic City News local news reporters that ten children got a hands-on lesson in both horticulture and community service through a partnership of the St. Johns County Health and Human Services Department and THE PLAYERS Championship Boys and Girls Club in St. Augustine.

The students spent three weeks putting together windowsill gardens, and last week each student hand-delivered his or her garden to a resident at Emeritus of St. Augustine Assisted Living Facility.

The program was initiated by County Prevention Support Specialist Laura Folk, who recently completed her master’s thesis on horticultural therapy. Her research on resiliency showed that community involvement significantly decreases the risk for drug and alcohol abuse in youth. So she contacted Justin Black, Unit Director for THE PLAYERS Championship Boys & Girls Club, and they worked with Barbara Plata, Activities Director at Emeritus, to develop this program as the community service component of the Club’s honors program.

The students began by making tags and painting planters, then potting the plants. Then they visited the assisted living facility and gave away their projects as an act of community service.

“When youth share their innate compassion by committing to community projects, they become empowered and develop the desire to be good citizens,” said Folk. “What better future could we want for our children?”

All garden supplies were donated by Garden By Garden, Inc., a nonprofit agency that assists homebound individuals to start indoor gardens.

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