Calgary camp uses gardening to help kids with disabilities
Camp Bonaventure gives kids with special needs the chance to take part in activities like gardening to help develop skill and confidence.
“What it’s really all about is giving people with disabilities a chance to interact in their community, to meet friends, to have a sense of belonging,” said Suzanne Jackett, CEO, Between Friends. “We’ve been operating this camp for 30 years, and the people who come to this camp are kids with disabilities, 98 percent of them have disabilities, from the ages of three to 17.”
This is the second year Camp Bonaventure's therapy garden has been in use by Between Friends, a charity that specializes in helping kids with special needs. Staff say it’s making a difference.
“We are working with children to get them to be familiar with gardening, to experience the joys of getting into the soil, being in the fresh air, starting to equate themselves with planting, care of plants and exploring while they are doing it,” said Janet Melrose, horticultural therapist. “The results have been phenomenal.”
The camp is designed specifically for kids with disabilities and is subsidized, a break for families who otherwise spend a great deal on their kids’ medical costs. This particular program is cutting edge.
“We all know music therapy and art therapy, garden therapy is now coming into its own in Canada,” said Melrose.
The camp is a hit with campers, some of whom have returned as volunteers.
“Between Friends is a fun place for everyone to have an experience,” said Alondra Hunt, volunteer.
“I think it’s spectacular, said Eric Tinling, camper. "My friend helped me water the potatoes.”
“Like last year it was fun but this year because there’s a lot more plants and a lot more things to deal with,” said Cabvan Pennie, camper.
Camp Bonaventure runs every summer and Between Friends offers programs during the school year as well. You can find out more here.