Russell-McDowell Intermediate School establishes sensory garden

October 12, 2018

RUSSELL, Ky. — Lesley Isom and Jamie Gibbs, special education teachers at Russell-McDowell Intermediate School, were looking for a grant to establish a sensory garden at the school when the Lowe’s store in Russell came calling with $2,500 in supplies and materials to make it happen.

Six volunteers from Lowe’s agreed to spend Tuesday and Wednesday building a pathway through an unused area at the school for the sensory garden.

“We need a place where these students can feel safe, a place for them to reset and to play,” Gibbs said Tuesday. “This is something that can calm them down. We have lots of students with sensory needs.”

“I am very excited about this,” said Xandra Gallucci, a school parent. Her son, Vincent, 11, has autism and epilepsy. “I really like this idea. Sometimes he can get a little overwhelmed. Noise or closeness from others bothers him. This is a place he can decompress and calm himself back down.”

Isom and Gibbs had been searching online for a grant to build the sensory garden and initially were disappointed to find out that the deadline had passed to apply for the grant. That same week the school received a call from Lowe’s.

“We do a community project every year,” said Missy Roberts, human resources manager at the Lowe’s off U.S. 23. “We did one in Boyd County last year, and we wanted to do something in Greenup County this year.”

Lowe’s provided $2,500 in materials including bricks, blocks, mulch and other materials that can be used to build the pathway, Roberts said.

“The kids will love this,” said Brigette Devaney, a custodian at the school. “It shouldn’t be hard to maintain.”

“They’re neighborhood heroes,” Isom said. “We’re trying to build community with our school. They provided six volunteers to help us with this.”

In addition to the sensory pathway, the school plans to put in a swing set and shaded areas, Isom said.

“We want to get the art teacher and the science teachers involved in this, too. We plan to do it in phases. The entire school can use this,” she said.

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