WEST ENGLEWOOD — Veterans living on the South Side of Chicago will soon have a garden they can visit to help relieve stress.
Engineering students from Lindblom Math and Science Academy have designed a meditation veterans garden at 5641 S. Hermitage Ave. They designed and helped build it, along with another community garden.
The veterans garden will be a therapeutic sensory healing garden, which means that it stimulates the senses for a calming effect. It’s commonly used as a form of meditative rehabilitation, said Cordia Pugh, the garden’s coordinator.
Veterans from the Jesse Brown Veterans Affairs Medical Center who have mental and emotional troubles will be able to enjoy the garden, Pugh said. There will be aromatic flowers and herbs. There will also be between 30-40 food growing plots in case the veterans want to cultivate vegetables with their families. The students are helping to install pergolas as well.
“I think it is really amazing that they designed it from the ground up,” said Jayne Joyce, recreation therapist at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center.
She said the garden would help the veterans physically, mentally and emotionally.
“I’m envisioning this being a safe space in the community to be with nature,” she said. “It’s challenging when you live in the city to be in a place where you’re surrounded by trees and grass.”
Joyce said that being around nature was very therapeutic and could help veterans “collect their thoughts.”
“This garden can foster different relationships with veterans and members of the community. This really creates an opportunity for real engagement with the community,” Joyce said.
Lawrence Bass, the students’ instructor, said that this had been a learning experience for the teens and that there would be more building days throughout the month. The goal is to finish the garden by the end of June.
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