The Sensory Garden in Pelham Bay Park has served hundreds of special needs kids for several years now.
And thanks to the Friends of Pelham Bay Park, will continue for many more years.
As a result of their annual fundraiser Thursday, March 27, Marianne Anderson, administrator of Pelham Bay Park, said the event raised enough to continue funding the garden’s programming for the next two years.
The Sensory Garden programming has served hundreds of special needs students from local elementary and middle schools since it opened in 2007, Anderson said. The garden’s educator, Han-Yu Hung, provides lessons to students whose abilities vary greatly.
“She’s really great with the kids,” Anderson said. “We’re lucky to have her.”
Anderson said the main attractions of the Sensory Garden, next to the Playground for All Children, is a raised wheelchair-accessible L-shaped planter and a teardrop-shaped planter bed.
The lessons that take place in April and May allow the students to feel and smell the plants, as well as dig their hands in the dirt.
“Those kinds of things are very therapeutic,” Anderson said.
Anderson said the lessons include a composting class where the children hold wiggling worms, and opportunities for them to plant seeds.
“A lot of kids haven’t done anything like this,” she said.
Anderson said the program, which is educational as well as therapeutic, helps teach kids about the rich natural heritage of New York City.
In addition to providing programing for the Sensory Garden, past Friends of Pelham Bay Park fundraisers have also made the park more accessible. A few years ago the group raised money for two beach wheelchairs for Orchard Beach, which visitors can request to use.
Last year, the fundraiser secured money for three pieces of outdoor exercise equipment, one of them a wheelchair accessible chest press.
Anderson also said the Friends of Pelham Bay Park are also working with the parks department to establish an accessible pond walk behind the playground. A temporary gravel path is there now to provide access to the grassy area, but the park hopes to replace that with a boardwalk so that all kids can take advantage of the green space.
“Children who have accessibility issues,” she said, “they can’t always go for a hike in the woods.”
Anderson said the Friends of Pelham Bay Park and the administration have a mission to make the park accessible to all.
“The Friends, in all that they do, promote access of the park to everyone.”