CHENNAI: Last month, a group of children with special needs and their families assembled at the barren backyard of a residence at Besant Nagar. Within a few hours of mindful watering, a bit of light-lifting, soaking up and revelling under the sun, the 250-odd sq. ft space turned into a green patch with seeds of mint, ajwain, and keerai varieties safely embedded into the soil.
“In March, when a palliative care organisation in Medavakkam reached out to me to plant saplings in their premise, I thought it could be a great activity to involve the children from SCAN. On the day of the plantation (March 21), we were surprised and elated to see the children enjoy themselves. We initially thought there would be hesitation to get their hands dirty.
But they were engaged and it was a sensory experience for them. It was an eye-opener for us,” shares Sneha Kuryan Reddy, a member of SCAN, who is also part of the Miyawaki initiative in Sholinganallur. The experience shaped into a green initiative, when playwright and author Mohan Narayanan reached out to offer the space in his backyard for SCAN’s horticulture activities. “This gave us the momentum to start a garden club for the children and engage them in gardening.
Our second event and inauguration of the club happened last weekend, wherein the children planted seeds and watered them. This, I believe will help them understand how different plants grow and spread,” says the coordinator of the Club. The activities of the Club, Gopinath Ramakrishnan, managing trustee of SCAN, says, will give children the experience of understanding evolution and its effect via the activity they do. “One of the challenges children with disabilities, especially those from the autism spectrum, face is looking at things as a continuum. Gardening gives them that vista.
For instance, today they water the plants and when they come back two weeks later, they can see it sprouting and later, it will be ready to be harvested and perhaps in their kitchen ready to be used in a dish. They get to see the development, and taking them through the life cycle of a plant gives them a new experience,” he shares. The gardening activities will happen once every two weeks. “Next weekend, besides watering and observing the plants, we will dabble with art and involve the kids in beautifying the walls of the club,” shares Sneha.