On Monday, April 22, join us as we dig in for the first full season of the Maze Branch Sensory Garden. Launched last fall with local families who have kids with disabilities, the garden is completely accessible and offers programs through summer and fall.
“We have a wide range of supports so anyone can come in and be comfortable and included,” says Children’s Librarian Shelley Harris. “Everyone deserves ways to be engaged in their community.”
Supported sensory gardening
In September, we launched the sensory garden in the outdoor courtyard on the south side of Maze Branch. In between stories and songs, we created a fairy garden and filled planters with edible kale, brightly colored peppers, and other plants and flowers selected for their texture, color, and scent.
This season we’re adding raised beds, and signs identifying the plantings, including labels in braille.
“There’s no one way to communicate,” Harris says. That’s why, among the supports like gloves if you don’t want to touch dirt, pads for kneeling, a bench for sitting, and grips to make tools easier to hold, we have augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) boards showing pictures and words related to gardening.
The AAC picture boards can supplement or replace verbal speech. For those in our community who use AAC to communicate, Harris says, “one of the best ways to make an inclusive, welcoming space is to have their language front and center.”
That’s why a permanent sign with an AAC board welcomes visitors to the garden off Harrison Street. “Now people who use AAC can see their language in their community,” Harris says. “For someone who uses AAC, that’s huge.”
Making all visits accessible and fun
In addition to supported nature play and gardening programs, the library offers programs especially for those with disabilities, including supported cooking, yoga, and musical theater.
For all family programs and everyday visits, Harris asks, “What can we do around the library to make everyone’s visit accessible and fun?”
Supports available include weighted pillows, fidgets, visual schedules, scanner pens, noise-canceling headphones, resistance bands, wiggle seats, sensory brushes, and pinwheels (which can serve as a visual cue for deep, calming breaths). To access any of these at the Main Library, just ask at the Children’s Services desk.
Join us this spring
Supported Sensory Gardening
Mondays, April 22 & May 20, 3:30-5 pm, Maze Branch. Join us to care for the daffodils that have bloomed and start planting new flowers and vegetables. Schedules and supports will be available to help all kids have fun and be successful. Best for families with children who have disabilities. Siblings and friends welcome.
Ages 7+: 3:30-4:15 pm
Ages 3-7: 4:30-5 pm
Supported Cooking and Stories
Friday, May 10, 4-4:45 pm, Main Library Storytime Room. Join us for cooking stories and making recipes. For children with disabilities ages 3 and up with caregiver support. See more »
Supported Storytime and Play
Weekly on Tuesdays, 4-4:30 pm, Main Library Storytime Room. For children with disabilities ages 3 and up with caregiver support. See more »