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Horticultural therapy program offers hope to disabled children



The Children's Center in Bethany recently established a horticulture therapy program, which isn't about playing in the dirt, but healing the young patients' bodies and minds.

"It helps them see that, even though they have a disability, and things are going wrong, they can still do something functional, something that can give back to the community, give back to nature," said Tami Crawford, a recreational therapist at the center. "It helps them know they can still be regular kids, and play in the dirt and be normal."

The center has had the program since the spring, but even before that, the children often worked with Brian Dougherty, a landscape architect and horticulturist at the center and with the Oklahoma City Community Foundation.

"They always said, 'Look at all these flowers I grew,'" Dougherty said. "It gave them a real sense of accomplishment, and maybe they never touched that flower because they had limitations, but they grew it because they told me what they wanted and we talked about it, and they'd tell me that they need to water it, so it's a real ownership and pride."

For children who depend on others for their care, gardening allows them to care for something else, and helps them regain their sense of independence, said Rochelle Allen, a horticulturist with the program.

"They can see every day, 'Hey, I did that. I did it and I didn't really have much help. I did it by myself.' And, they can nurture it, " Allen said. "Lea Terry

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