As most parents and educators know, students should not miss the opportunity to keep learning through the summer months when school is out on break.
At the Pioneer Education Center, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, they value this belief. This school, one of many of the Pittsburgh Public Schools in Brookline, serves students from ages 5-21 with severe physical and mental disabilities. These students need an extended year of schooling because with a long summer break, they may lose valuable learning time.
In this summer’s program, they have started making use of a sensory garden, which is designed to be especially appealing to people with special needs. Making use of senses of smell, sight and tough offer students a new perspective on learning.
This garden is unique. There are wheelchair-accessible swing sets, fragrant and touchable plants, a bubbling rock fountain and overhangs for shade against the sunlight. Areas for play and reflection are also included in the garden. Throughout the summer more additions will be made, like raised planters, vine-covered tunnels and outdoor musical instruments and picnic tables.
Thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Edith L. Trees Charitable Trust, the garden offers students a place to learn things outside of the classroom. Since all students qualify for summer sessions of school, they will take full advantage of this new place.
Because the summer days are shorter and focus more on physical, occupational and language topics, the garden provides a great amount of opportunity for the students. Spending time outdoors and walking through the gardens and enjoying nature give students more to look forward to during their summer days.
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