The Student News Source of Sparkman High School

Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Kate Copley

Senior Creates Sensory Garden to Help Others Distress

School can be a very overwhelming place, especially for those with special needs. Senior, Katie Copley decided to create a sensory garden at Endeavor Elementary to help students combat their stress. 

A sensory garden is a garden made using a variety of different plants and materials, with the purpose of sensory stimulation. The gardens are uniquely crafted to engage sight, smell, touch, taste, sound, or a combination of these. 

“Engagement with sensory gardens can allow access to unique sensory inputs that promote a variety of benefits,” said Copley. “It promotes physical activity, provides a sense of participation and community, supplies a lasting sense of peace, has a calming effect on the children, represents cognitive and physical challenges, inspires a personal sense of accomplishment, decreases fatigue, and increases mental clarity.”

Copley needed a project for her Girl Scouts Gold Award, so went looking for ideas. She heard about sensory gardens and how beneficial they were in schools, and decided to create one at Endeavor Elementary as her project. 

“I knew from the beginning that I wanted to do something to benefit children,” Copley said. “Endeavor Elementary is really close to my house, both my brother and I went there, and I have great relationships with the teachers and administration, so I decided to make the garden there.”

Copley spent an extensive amount of time researching sensory gardens to figure out what would make the garden the most effective for helping students. She made a design plan for how she wanted the garden to look and work. 

“I researched sensory gardens and I tried to build the garden so it would include many helpful features,” Copley said. “I also wanted it to have a lot of walking space so it didn’t feel crowded.”

After she created what she believed would be the most effective design she started the physical building of the garden. Copley, assisted by her family, began to clear and prepare the space she chose to make the garden. 

“ I had to clear a space for it in the school’s outdoor classroom, which meant a lot of weed-pulling and a lot of ground-leveling,” said Copley. “I could always rely on my family to lend a helping hand whenever I needed them, from hauling trash, to pulling up weeds.”

Copley spent over 100 hours working towards creating her garden. Over these 100 hours she collected a variety of different materials, and recruited sponsors so she could afford what she believed would be the best items for the garden. She then proceeded to manually paint rocks she would lay, lay astroturf and mulch, plant flowers and decorate it to follow her design. 

“Once everything was prepared, I needed to put it all together,” said Copley. “The assembly was the fun part.”

Copley says she is very pleased with how the garden turned out. She believes the design will help students, specifically those with special needs, have a place to go to help them cope with the overwhelm and stress of school. 

“I hope that it’ll be a part of Endeavor for years,” said Copley. “And I hope that it’ll help many kids.”

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