A Tempe student is raising the bar for innovation while also giving back to youth and young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). As part of an Eagle Scout project, Corona del Sol student Nathaniel Thompson wanted to create something to teach others about independence, sustainability and horticultural therapy.
According to experts, horticultural therapy is a new trend in adaptive recreation allowing people with IDD to enhance their cognitive abilities, task initiation and social skills. His idea? Adaptable raised planter beds for Tempe’s LEAP program, which provides after-school programming for youth with IDD.
“Nathaniel reached out to us wanting to make a difference in the lives of students with special needs,” said Adaptive Recreation Program Coordinator Samantha Mason. “We worked with him to brainstorm the planter idea to bring it to fruition. His gift will help our students learn more about horticultural therapy and see their potential for independence.”
Nathaniel raised all the funds for supplies and built the two planter beds himself. The unique planters are on wheels, making them easy to move. They are also raised, allowing students in wheelchairs to pull up and use the beds for planting and harvesting.
This year, Tempe’s LEAP program will start a garden club to provide a therapeutic release for students. Staff also hopes to plant, harvest and use the vegetables for its cooking program.
Visit Tempe’s adaptive recreation webpage to learn more about its offerings and programs.