Avenues has established a tradition of bringing families and children together to learn how their “behavior makes a difference in the ecosystem” of our local community. Our closest partner, Hudson Guild, recently invited our smallest students onto the grounds of the Fulton Houses, where children got a chance to play in the dirt and plant flowers.
Vanessa Rahman, our newly appointed APA Chair of Community Service, led the day’s activities, along with Cheryl Kamen, Director of Adult Services at the Neighborhood Senior Center where the garden is located. Of the experience, Vanessa writes:
On Community Engagement Day this past April, 12 Avenues Lower School* families chose to spend their cold and crisp Saturday morning at the Hudson Guild Fulton Center garden. The Fulton Community Center helps to keep Senior Chelsea residents (“55 and better”) healthy, active and engaged through a range of educational, recreational and wellness-related activities. The garden is a centerpiece of the center and much loved by community residents.
Given the early hour and it being the first time many of these families had been inside the community center, it was a slow start. The morning began with unloading a delivery of spring seedlings and flowers and a huddle session with the curious children about the garden and why it was so special that they were there. Many were surprised to discover how close to their school was to the Fulton Center, making it part of the same community. The head gardener, Sam, took pride in talking about how he cares for the plants and plans the garden seasonally. He also shared some wonderful stories about his decades of living in West Chelsea.
Most of all, the students were struck by how green the space already was and talked about how good it made them feel to be in an urban garden. This feeling went a long way in helping them to understand the importance of what they were doing that day: contributing to and interacting with fellow Chelsea community members of different ages, maintaining green space within a city and spending time doing some work at an hour when they could have all still been in their pajamas.
By the end of the morning, Sam directed a workforce of children ages 5 to 7, who took turns cleaning up the space and watering the seedlings, digging up (and naming) earthworms and comparing planting methods. Everyone left with a smile.
My daughter and I went back to the garden one afternoon in early June. It was a livelier scene during the week, with people in and out of the garden attending programs and going about their day. My 6-year-old was happy to see that the plants that she and her classmates had tended to were still there, pops of color in an already very green space.
See more photos below.
*Please note that beginning in the 2016–17 school year, Avenues moved from a four-division school structure with an Early Learning Center (N–Pre-K), Lower School, (K–4), Middle School (5–8) and Upper School (9–12) to a three-division structure with an Early Learning Center (N–K), Lower Division (1–5) and Upper Division (6–12). The Upper Division is further divided into two programs—the middle grades program (6–8) and the upper grades program (9–12).