- Chester County Intermediate Unit
CCIU Learning Center Gardens Serve as Therapeutic Destination
Coatesville, PA – Horticulture students at the Chester County Intermediate Unit’s (CCIU) Learning Center (CCLC) have been working hard to build and design Zen Falls, a feature of their Zen Wow Gardens. The students have been at it since last school year, and they are anxiously awaiting the grand opening on August 1.
“Zen Wow was created to develop gardens that beautify and serve a purpose. We want our gardens to be the first and last impression for people visiting our school. That's the ‘wow!’” said Mike Walls, CCLC horticulture instructor. “Additionally, because of the emotional needs of many of our students, the gardens can serve as therapeutic destinations for anyone who needs a place to problem solve and work through stressors. That's where the ‘zen’ comes from.”
There is also a community partnership component to Zen Wow. The CCLC’s partners are community members made up of volunteers, businesses and local government officials. The partners work with the students to plan, design, install and maintain the Zen Wow spaces.
“In addition to working with our students, these partnerships offer opportunities for our students to have authentic work experiences, networking opportunities and practice the employability skills we teach in class,” explained Walls.
Currently, there are 10 local volunteers that visit and work alongside the students. Local businesses and groups that have volunteered include Turpin Landscape Design/Build, Chanticleer Gardens, Forge Hill Nursery, Harmony Hill Nursery, Valley Garden Club and Susan's Artisan Gardens.
“Zen Falls has been beneficial to our students because it provides them with a calming space to visit and organize their thoughts,” said Chamise Taylor, CCLC principal. “I’m excited that our students have the opportunity to access the therapeutic benefits of such a structure.”
The grand opening celebration of Zen Falls will take place at the CCLC on Thursday, August 1, 2019.
Students at the CCLC spend half of their school day in academic classes and the other half in their pre-vocational shop program. The academic program offers core subject areas, including: language arts, social studies, science and mathematics that are designed to meet the learning and educational needs of students. Additionally, eleventh and twelfth-grade students have an opportunity to participate in a work experience program.
Students from 29 school districts, including all 12 in Chester County, attend the CCIU Learning Center. For more information, visit www.cciu.org/learningcenter.