by Nozizwe Ginindza
In line with our objective to run fully inclusive and accessible activities for all children, SJBH runs a small veggie garden that is designed for participation by both able bodied children and those that are differently abled. Focus this year 2018 was put into increased and improved participation for children in wheelchairs, by designing a way for them to participate without having to go through the discomfort and potentially harmful effort of dismounting from their wheelchairs. This meant that we had to find a way to raise the garden to a level that allows the children to plant, water and care for the plants on a garden bed that is the height of their wheelchairs.
To achieve this, we went around Manzini and Matsapha city centre collecting old car and tractor tryres, which were then layered on top of each other to achieve the required wheelchair height. The tyres were then filled with soil, and the children were then able to plant lettuce, onions, spinach and beetroot seedlings, and water them with ease.
As some of the children at SJBH have intellectual disabilities as well as their physical limitations, this project gave the children not only a chance to get active with the soil and learn the process of planting a garden, but SJBH has essentially equipped the children with a life skill that they can duplicate at home, without needing a huge piece of land, using minimum water therefore environmentally friendly, and no pesticides or fertilisers, therefore producing highly organic fresh produce. This method of elevated gardening also allows the children to run their individual garden with the highest possible sense of independence and self-sufficiency, requiring very little help from family members. This allows children who have finished our program and have now returned to their communities to be able to utilise this skill in order to be less of a burden to their families and also have the potential to become contributors and income generators in their households.