Green Oaks School Goes Green

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A new walking path curves around Green Oaks School, inviting students to walk or bicycle. Nearby, tomatoes, herbs and vegetables will soon grow in two greenhouses.

The amenities are part of the school’s nascent initiative, Going Green – Learning to Care for Ourselves, Our Community and Our Environment, launched with the help of a $60,000 grant from the Arlington Tomorrow Foundation.

Going Green aims to help students be good stewards of the environment, while taking care of their own bodies through exercise and healthy eating, says Jean Jewell, executive director of the Arlington school.

“This is about enhancing the lives of our students,” Jewell says. “We are encouraging our students to engage in their community, take care of themselves and gain confidence as they learn to grow vegetables.”

Green Oaks School provides a Christian-based education for school-aged students and adults with Down’s syndrome and other intellectual disabilities. The school currently has about 70 students, ranging in age from 5 to 64 years old.

In addition to the walking path and greenhouses, the grant is helping the school build raised garden beds and benches, and pay for plants, gardening tools and pots, a recycling station for sorting, small can receptacles and shredders for paper recycling.

Eventually, the school hopes to turn the garden into a business, with students growing and selling fruits and vegetables, handling money, engaging with customers and learning how to operating a small business. Students also could help other small businesses with recycling needs.

“Ultimately, we want to help our students be as independent as possible,” Jewell says. “When students are able to plant seeds and then make a salad with what they have grown, they get an incredible confidence boost.”

Margaret Yaquinto, whose 17-year-old son, Jacob, attends Green Oaks School, says the walking path and garden have the potential to change students’ lives.

“This is a great opportunity for our students to get exercise, spend time outdoors and learn wonderful life skills,” Yaquinto says. “They are learning job skills that could give their lives meaning and purpose, and that is always our goal.”

Going Green teaches students that our health, community and environment are connected to one another, Jewell says.

“We are developing healthy habits to improve the lives of our students,” she says. “That can mean we plant gardens, take a walk or ride a bicycle or recycle to reduce our impact on the environment.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *