Springdale and local school have planted the seeds of an exciting partnership

Grade 10 student Lexi Mills puts a plant in one of the gardens at Springdale Country Manor.

Youth engagement program at Springdale has been ‘a real sense of paying it forward’ for the past 7 years

SPRINGVILLE, Ont. – Five students from Thomas A. Stewart Secondary School (TAS) in Peterborough have been busy putting their green thumbs to work getting gardens and planters ready for summer at Springdale Country Manor.

Not only are students in the youth engagement program getting some work experience and helping to beautify Springdale, they are also earning a high-school credit for their work.

This is the seventh year TAS students in the youth engagement program have come to the Peterborough County long-term care home to help prep the gardens.

Students in the TAS horticultural program began planting in the school’s greenhouse in September. The plants and vegetables have since been transplanted at Springdale by the students and program facilitators.

Mark Wilkins, a child and youth counsellor, says the collaboration is providing the students with valuable work experience and a chance to make a difference to others in the community.

“One of the highlights of the program is that the students all love coming here,” Mark tells The OMNIway. “They love interacting with the residents, and it’s a real sense of paying it forward. This is a youth engagement program where kids do something in the community to serve the community.”

Teacher Marty Van Haaften adds that the students are also learning valuable skills.

“They are learning about plant husbandry while working towards a school credit,” he says.

Grade 10 student Lexi Mills says her favourite part of the program has been planting seeds and watching the plants grow.

While Lexi says she didn’t have a green thumb before, she’s taking a shine to gardening.

“What makes (this program) great is that these are not someone else’s plants, they’re our plants that we’ve grown, so that’s really exciting,” she says.

Mark agrees, adding the program has had a lot of success since it was initiated.

“You’d be hard-pressed to find any of the students who haven’t enjoyed this process,” he says.

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