Mason Sheppard, Wanda Nahdee, raised garden bedMHK student Mason Sheppard and Wanda Nahdee, program manager of the Aboriginal Child Resource Centre, pose with the raised garden bed which will enable persons with disabilities to participate in outdoor education.

Accessible garden product of collaboration

Building a universally-designed raised garden bed outside the Aboriginal Child Resource Centre built connections as well, says a UWindsor grad student.

Mason Sheppard, a master’s candidate in human kinetics, championed the “The Three Sisters Garden Project” with Wanda Nahdee, the centre’s program manager, as a way of providing a safe pathway for all to enjoy its Kitigan mino inawendiwin (Good Friends Garden), which serves clients and neighbours.

“Completing the Three Sisters Garden Project in collaboration with the ACRC was an exciting opportunity for me to help provide an accessible outdoor learning space,” says Sheppard. “Although the end goal of the project was to reduce physical barriers to the Kitigan mino inawendiwin, it became clear that there was an additional value: to connect young children and the community to nature.”

He notes he also had the opportunity to learn about the centre’s programs and Indigenous knowledge-sharing practices.

Nahdee says the partnership resulted in an accomplishment beyond planting and harvesting.

“The Three Sisters Garden Project will be a wonderful way to provide Indigenous cultural teachings of the importance of Mother Earth and all she has to offer,” she says. “The children, their parents and community will enjoy exploring the Kitigan Mino Inawendiwin while enjoying the rewards of a vegetable garden.”

Besides the raised bed, the project encompassed a ramp into the centre’s outdoor education space. It was supported by a $10,000 federal grant through the Enabling Accessibility Fund, which encourages youth leaders to work with local organizations to improve accessibility and safety in community spaces.