“Gardening is very therapeutic:” New garden in South Milwaukee promotes health, healing

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SOUTH MILWAUKEE -- A new garden in South Milwaukee promotes health and healing. It is designed for the disabled and visually impaired -- and for some visitors it is a brand new way to experience nature.

Sweet sounds fill the air at South Milwaukee's Grant Park. In this nook, something special is happening.

"Gardening is very therapeutic," said Deb McKernan-Ace, OTA program director at Bryant & Stratton College.

People suffering from delays or disabilities are healing.

"It can get people with physical disabilities to have less symptoms with their arthritis, or to suddenly realize that they can actually dig in the dirt when they have been in a wheelchair for 20 years," said McKernan-Ace.

Sensory Garden

This is a sensory garden. All five senses are stimulated, so no matter what your physical or mental abilities, you can experience the outdoors.

From painting to planting -- students in the Occupational Therapy Program at Bryant and Stratton College are working with participants from Adult Day Services.

"The idea is to maintain social skills, increase socialization, and be a part of the community that you live in," said Nicci Nageotte, program director, Adult Day Services of Southeast Wisconsin.

Sensory Garden

Student Patti Fonz is excited at the progress.

"I said 'good morning Matthew' and gave him a high five, and he took my hand and put it on his neck and then he put his hand on my neck and gave me a hug -- and that is the first time that he had done that with me," said Fonz.

Sensory Garden

"The excitement on their face and the enthusiasm --  you cannot replace that,"  said McKernan-Ace.

The sensory garden is open to the public. It is located next to the recreational center at Grant Park. The students work with Adult Day Services participants on Wednesdays and Fridays.