Garden is brainchild of 24-year-old staff member with Developmental Disabilities
With the help of community partners and the initiative of one of its staff members, Westchester Institute for Human Development (WIHD) has opened a new garden called “Adam’s Garden” to provide therapeutic benefits to children and families and engage young adults with disabilities in community service.
Filled with seasonal flowers and vegetables, this landscaped area is a small, but impactful, community program at the Westchester Institute for Human Development. The garden is the brainchild of 24-year-old Brendan Klein who was hired with a grant from the Taft Foundation to expand community service opportunities for young adults with disabilities. Community partners Pleasantville Community Garden and St. John’s Episcopal Church helped create the garden, which is named in memory of Adam Brickel, the son of WIHD Director of Community Support Network Naomi Brickel, Brendan’s supervisor.
At a ribbon cutting ceremony for the garden attended by staff, friends and elected officials, Brickel unveiled a wooden bench made by Klein and his father, the centerpiece of the garden. She said that she was honored and touched that Klein had suggested naming the garden after her son, who died suddenly at age 15. Brickel said that it was a fitting tribute to a young man who had spent most of his short life helping others.
Susan Fox, President and CEO of Westchester Institute for Human Development, said the garden represented the spirit of WIHD, a place where people put aside personal concerns to help others. She thanked Klein, his mother and father and the partners – Pleasantvillle Community Gardens and St. John’s Episcopal Church, who provided technical support and seed money for the project.
“This garden is a small but mighty project,’’ she said. “It shows how an idea, no matter how small, with the right support and community involvement can make a huge impact.”
Klein, who spends many hours volunteering at the Pleasantville Community Garden, said he got the idea after he learned that WIHD had once had a garden. He said he hoped the children in WIHD’s Child Welfare program, which helps to counsel families and children to prevent child abuse, would feel “happy and safe” in the garden.
The event was attended by Senator Shelley Mayer; Assemblymen David Buchwald and Tom Abinanti; The Rev. Mary Gregorius, Rector, St. John’s Episcopal Church and David Juros, Pleasantville Community Garden.
As one of 67 University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, the Westchester Institute for Human Development (WIHD) is dedicated to improving the lives of people with disabilities and vulnerable children through professional education, direct service provision, and innovative research. For over 45 years, WIHD has been a key regional resource providing a wide range of medical, dental, clinical and social services to individuals with disabilities, vulnerable children, families and professionals throughout Westchester County and the Lower Hudson Valley. At WIHD, everything we do is guided by our vision of a future in which all people, including people with disabilities and vulnerable children, live healthy and productive lives as full members of society. For more information, visit wihd.org.