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Therapeutic Horticulture at Green Chimneys School Wins National Green Thumb Challenge
(BREWSTER, NY – Nov. 16,) Green thumbs at a renowned special education program have achieved national recognition: Green Chimneys School is the winner of the Green Education Foundation’s 2012 Green Thumb Challenge! Selected from five finalists out of 215 applications from across the country, Green Chimneys School has been awarded a $5,000 grant from the Green Education Foundation for its engaging – and purposeful – student gardening program. The annual Green Thumb Challenge calls on youth garden programs from across the country to demonstrate the impact of their garden on the community and the students. Considered to be the largest youth gardening initiative in history, the Challenge mobilizes schools and youth groups to connect with nature through plants and gardening, and incorporates standards-based lessons and activities related to gardening into the classroom.
Nature-based programs are an integral part of the Green Chimneys School curriculum and horticultural activities play a key role in supporting the social, academic, psychological and physical well-being of the children. Green Chimneys’ programs aim to teach students how to reconnect, relearn basic social skills and rebuild self-esteem and the gardening program is an effective tool in helping students see first-hand that their contribution makes a difference. They learn that their hard work produces results, not only the creation of produce for the rest of the school to eat at the dining hall, but also the recognition they receive for mastering new skills and behaviors associated with activities and responsibilities in the garden.
The Green Chimneys School gardening program is provided to every student as part of the regularly scheduled school day. In addition to the integration of the gardens into science, math and language arts classes, formal gardening classes are taught year-round by a certified horticultural therapist. During the spring, summer and fall months, classes are held in one of the school’s organic gardens, and students learn about plant maintenance and harvesting of the crops. In the winter, students experience the scientific side of horticulture, such as plant anatomy and seed propagation in the greenhouse. Last year, Green Chimneys students raised over 7,500 pounds of produce, which was used in the campus dining hall, in life skills and nutrition classes, at the Boni-Bel farm stand, and in the student culinary arts program.
The funds from the $5000 award will be used for several needed maintenance projects in the Green Chimneys Children's Garden that will allow the school to continue high-quality gardening programs in a safe environment. The maintenance will also protect the garden and its structures from further deterioration, weathering and destruction by animals. The award also includes a garden cart of supplies from the Vermont-based Gardener's Supply Company.
The Green Chimneys School provides individualized year-round education and support to help young people maximize their full potential with programs and services that create and nurture connections to the community and the natural world. A therapeutic school program on two campuses (Brewster and Carmel, NY) incorporates academic, behavioral and emotional support in a comprehensive learning environment. Green Chimneys is a multi-faceted human services agency providing education, residential treatment, and animal-assisted and nature-based therapeutic programs for children with special needs; community-based support for youth and families; and public recreation and education programs. www.greenchimneys.org
Green Education Foundation (GEF) is a non-profit organization committed to creating a sustainable future through education. Sustainability education provides educators with the real-world applied learning models that connect science, technology, and math education with the broader human concerns of environmental, economic, and social systems. GEF provides curriculum and resources to K-12 students and teachers worldwide with the goal of challenging them to think holistically and critically about global environmental concerns and solutions. www.greeneducationfoundation.org.