The school is located just of Calhoun Road near Capitol Drive, but Brookfield students often go through their lives without giving Fairview South much notice.
Samantha Stark, a junior at Brookfield Academy, decided to change that this year with a project that could win her a Gold Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouting. In September, after months of planning and building, Stark delivered three gardens on wheels to Fairview South, where the middle and high school students are moderately to severely disabled.
As soon as she arrived with the gardens, the students started digging.
"My favorite part of the whole process was watching the kids do it and smiling," Samantha, of Girl Scout Troop 2514, said.
The mobile gardens are specially designed to be wheelchair-accessible and can be raised to various heights. They can be used indoors and outdoors year-round.
"The students will be able to roll or walk up to the gardens and use them to have fun while practicing their gross motor skills," Samantha wrote in her application for a Gold Award. She will find out after a final interview whether she will receive the award.
Cathy Davis, who teaches at Fairview South and helped Samantha with the planning, said the gardens will be used in the school's work center, where students learn vocational skills.
"We're really thankful," Davis said. "In the past, we had a garden outside, and that's just not accessible to our students anymore because we have more of a variety of needs."
The goal of the work center is to prepare Fairview students, who are up to 21 years old, for life after graduation. Gardening will join myriad other activities, like packaging, sorting, clerical work and maintenance projects.
"We're trying to find places for all these kids when they graduate because we don't want them just sitting at home," Davis said. "We want to make those productive and meaningful years for them."
Davis said the garden will help students work on hand-eye coordination, following directions and collaborating with partners.
"Having a new experience is always good," Davis said. "Our job is to open up their world, and this is a great step."
Jackie Luthi, a Fairview mother who also helped Samantha with her project, said she thinks the gardens could provide students a lifelong productive hobby.
"They're learning a whole new skill that they could do at home," she said.
Samantha also got help in the form of donations from Machine Rebuilders and Debrah Vander Heiden.
Samantha said her design is not copyrighted and "will be shared with others freely so that anyone in the world can build it."
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