July 23, 2024
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Kool Kids Passaic Offers Horticultural Experiences for Children With Special Needs

(Courtesy of Kool Kids Passaic) Yoni (name has been changed), a Kool Kids Passaic participant, eagerly picked a purple bean from the garden. He quickly washed it off, and, with the help of his volunteer, said a bracha and took a bite. “I grew this!” Yoni exclaimed. “In our Kool Kids garden!”

Yoni and his friends at Kool Kids Passaic have been growing their own vegetables. From preparing the garden beds, to planting seeds and seedlings, to watering and weeding, and finally harvesting, the Kool Kids Passaic participants, who have a wide range of disabilities and abilities, have worked together with experienced special education teachers and trained volunteers to engage in all aspects of planting and maintaining their own garden.

Lessons and learning abound for the participants in the garden. Preparing the garden beds with bags of soil requires teamwork, cooperation and communication. Yoni and his friends worked together to lift the bags of soil, cut them open and pour the contents into the beds. Planting requires participants to share tools, take turns and follow directions. As the vegetables started to grow, and were ready to harvest, everyone felt a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment. Seeing the vegetables growing in the ground helped the participants understand the bracha of borei pri ha’adama. Next came an opportunity to try new vegetables. When Yoni’s mother heard that he had tasted zucchini, she couldn’t believe that he was willing to try a new vegetable! But it wasn’t really surprising, because of how much pride Yoni took in growing and eating his own food.

Horticultural experiences are known to provide educational and therapeutic benefits to children with disabilities, and the Kool Kids Passaic participants are reaping those benefits in their very own garden. The community is invited to share in the magic! Please reach out to arrange a tour of the Kool Kids Passaic garden or to learn more about the wide range of programming offered throughout the year for Passaic/Clifton children and young women with special needs. Contact Kool Kids at 201-431-5665 and at [email protected], or visit www.koolkidspassaic.com.

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