Girls’ program updates school green spaces to promote mental health wellness
An underutilized yard has been turned into an oasis of peace for students at Martin Luther King Jr. No. 9 School. The New Peace Garden is a passionate project for members of Sisters II Sisters, a program that provides mentoring, education and social emotional support to grade six girls.
School social worker Jamie Hearn is a counselor with Sister II Sisters. She said the girls decided to improve the yard after learning about the benefits of green spaces.
“They wanted to rejuvenate the existing butterfly garden which was dormant.” Hearn said. “They wanted to create a place where students can go out and mediate, take breaks and be calm.”
Hearn said the yard is also a much safer space for outdoor activities, as the school’s playground on N. Clinton Avenue is sometimes a dumping ground for used needles.
To bring their vision to life, the students received a $ 1,000 grant from the Gandhi Institute and partnered with Broccolo Tree and Lawn Care. The connection was made by Hearns, who reached out to CEO Laurie Broccolo for gardening advice.
Broccolo started working directly with the girls, educating them about landscaping and entrepreneurship. She even offered to help the young women plant the butterfly garden. She said she was thrilled with the opportunity.
“I thought it was a great way to connect with young girls and show them that they can be their own bosses and show them that they can have careers,” said Broccolo.
Broccolo said gardening is a skill that improves some people’s mental health, and she praises the girls for creating a legacy for other students in their school.
“Even though they don’t have a career in landscaping, they now know how to garden,” said Broccolo.
Members of Sisters II Sister Plant Flowers in Yard # 9 at Martin Luther King Jr. School.Credit April Franklin / WXXI NewsEdit | Remove
12-year-old Tamajah Lenear helped draft the grant that secured the project. She said the garden is an accomplishment and she appreciates the support Sisters II receive.
“It’s amazing that people are helping us and being a part of what we’ve all created together,” said Lenear.
The new Peace Garden will not only serve as a place for relaxation and meditation, but will also serve as an outdoor classroom for all students and teachers of School No.9.