REED’S Garden Grows Gold
by Meghan Halloran
As an Ambassador Girl Scout in Troop 70305 and senior at Indian Hills High School in Oakland, I recently completed a project for my Girl Scout Gold Award entitled, “REED’S Garden”. Over the past two years, I have spent more than 80 hours preparing lesson plans and developing a thematic unit on plants and gardening and then carrying them out with a group of students at the REED Academy in Oakland.
As I became aware of the lack of social and leisure activities for autistic children, I decided to use the opportunity of my Gold Award and created “REED’s Garden” which targeted the lack of programming for social and leisure skills for autistic children. Working on my Gold Award and this project has taught me not only how to work with autistic children and teach them skills about gardening and plants, but also how to be a stronger leader and stay composed even when obstacles arise.
Over the course of more than a year, I visited with the group of students and completed lesson plans with them each season, using both an interactive bulletin board and lessons with crafts and outdoor activities. These activities were designed to allow the students to not only learn but also work together and interact while working on some fun activities in gardening. The lesson plans were compiled in a binder to be used year after year. I have also reached out to other groups and shared my lesson plans with them hoping they too can possibly extend their learning and recreational activities to the outdoors with other special needs children. Upon completing my project, I cannot be any more thankful to the REED Academy for allowing me to work with their students, and for the students teaching me more about myself as well. Although I wish I was still able to continue this project myself, I am grateful that the school will continue to enhance the students learning experience with the garden activities. I encourage you to watch this video https://youtu.be/51NDDCFwD4o and see the lessons that were completed and be inspired to continue similar projects in your area.