Broken Arrow Express
GARDEN ACCESSIBILITY: Andrew Singletary, a junior at Broken Arrow High School, used his Eagle Scout project to bring greater accessibility to wheelchair-bound students at Vandever Elementary. In August, Singletary and other volunteers constructed a wheelchair ramp in the school’s outdoor garden.
EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers
In August, Broken Arrow High School junior Andrew Singletary used his Eagle Scout project to impact wheelchair-bound students at Vandever Elementary.
Singletary, who was diagnosed with autism at age three, began as a Cub Scout in first grade. Recently, he had been looking for a community project that would help him earn his Eagle Scout rank.
So, before school started, Singletary, with help from his Scout troop 977, constructed a wheelchair ramp in Vandever’s garden, which sits in an open-air atrium in the center of the school.
After Vandever teachers and administrators created the school’s garden about four years ago, they knew that they would need to install a wheelchair ramp.
According to special education teacher Tobey Bullington, all BAPS elementary students who are in wheelchairs attend Vandever.
“Andrew wanted to do something to help the students with disabilities,” says Bullington.
The garden will include two flowerbeds that can be accessed by the ramp, with one bed raised to allow for easy access for wheelchair-bound students, explains Bullington. One of the flowerbeds will feature flowers of different textures and scents to allow for sensory stimulation.
“Research shows that nature helps special needs individuals regulate,” she continues. “When they are having an episode, they can go into the garden, and it will help them to calm down.”
Singletary also built a bench in the garden.
“I want to help students so they can gain experience in the garden and learn to garden with their own hands,” says Singletary.
Also assisting Singletary on the project were his family, Vandever teachers and Crossland Construction.
In addition to flowers, the garden also contains fruit and vegetable plants and is used as an outdoor classroom and as a teaching area for garden club members.
The school’s garden club is beginning its second year. For its first year, the club had 100 students participating.