Activ employment coordinator, Kerry Bain, has truly gone the extra mile for supported employees and her fellow staff members at Activ Employment Services Osborne Park, in designing and building an outdoor sensory garden at the business services site.
Encompassing a greenhouse, large lawn area, benches to sit and relax, a BBQ area and sensory garden beds with plants and fruit trees to ‘touch’, ‘smell’ and ‘eat’, the garden has had an amazing impact on supported employees, especially those with sensory needs.
“There’s been so much research with regards to sensory needs and mindfulness, and the impacts around that for people with disability, especially when people need some time out,” said Kerry.
“It was the vision for the garden to be somewhere for our supported employees to take some time out during breaks, or if they ever felt too overwhelmed by anything, and I thought ‘we don’t have a lot of indoor space, but we have a garden.’”
Throughout the whole process of building the garden, Kerry sought input from her colleagues and the supported employees at Osborne Park.
“We’ve had a lot of input from staff and even gave out some flyers to the supported employees asking for their input and suggestions on what they’d like to see in the garden,” said Kerry.
From there, Kerry went above and beyond to source materials and begin gardening in her own time. Using what she sourced from Facebook marketplace as well as some of her own plants and donated plants, she built the garden into what it is today.
In addition to being a space for supported employees to address sensory needs and relax, Kerry’s aim is for the garden to also provide opportunities for skill development.
“The more plants that come in, the more our supported employees can do in the garden. We’re making another greenhouse that’s going to be where all the potting is done, so I’m really looking forward to seeing our supported employees learn those skills of how to grow and propagate plants and have that contribution into the garden,” said Kerry.
“In the future we’ll have labels on the plants so that our supported employees can learn about each plant and we’re also going to have some more sounds with windchimes, to give it even more of a ‘zen’ feeling.”
The reception from Osborne Park’s supported employees has been overwhelmingly positive.
“Kerry did a good job, we come outside more now that the garden’s here,” said supported employee Tracey.
“We sit here and chill out on our morning tea and lunch breaks. I love all the colours and it’s very relaxing,” said supported employee Julie.
Site manager Michael Lavelle is excited for the ways that the garden could broaden supported employees’ opportunities for independence at work.
“It’s a great example of Activ’s values in action and will be a great stepping stone for some of our supported employees who may want to move into property care, as they’ll learn some foundational horticultural skills here. Kerry and the team have done an amazing job,” said Michael.
Next time you stop by at Osborne Park, be sure to give the sensory garden a visit!