ASHLAND – A recent graduate of the Computer Aided Drafting and Design program at ACTC played a pivotal role in the development of plans for a sensory garden in Grayson.
Paul Holbrook recalls being pitched the idea and immediately being intrigued by it. He says he was honored to make the visual to bring the community’s dream to life.
“Making plan after plan at the college and on my living room couch, I set a goal to make sure I didn’t disappoint, not only Shanna, but the community as a whole because this is a very important project that will benefit so many,” Holbrook said.
Shanna McDavid-Stamm, the founder and President of Family and Friends of Autism, approached Mike Polley, program coordinator for the CADD program about one of his students assisting with the planning process for the park. She says her son, Noah, inspired her to do more for the kids in her community that are affected by autism.
“We wanted to promote awareness for autism and raise money to help area students affected by autism,” Stamm said.
After researching some ideas of the best ways to benefit people living with autism, she kept coming across sensory gardens. She then set out to learn as much as she could about them, what they could include, and who could benefit from them.
“Time spent in natural environments can provide a range of health benefits, including reduced stress and lowered blood pressure,” said Stamm. “Sensory gardens also have proven therapeutic value. For example, people with disabilities, such as autism, visual impairment or dementia can enjoy nature in a safe and tactile environment. Sensory gardens make a great contribution to emotional and physical health. They can be beautiful places to relax, reflect, meditate, contemplate and talk.”
At the time of her initial pitch, the sports park in Grayson was under construction. Once speaking to the park board, they were approved for a half-acre of ground to build the sensory garden.
The expected cost of the garden is around $130,000, which includes labor.
Stamm says her organization will fund the sensory garden through grants and internal fundraising.
Construction was delayed due to the pandemic, but she expects construction to begin this summer. She is hopeful the sensory garden will be ready to open by Fall 2023.