MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Several Mobile groups are teaming up to keep young people engaged and out of trouble through gardening.
Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design is a new program that mixes gardening and life skills in the hopes of keeping Mobile Youth safe.
Leo Denton, one of the gardeners from Mobile Urban Growers who works directly with the young people said the program isn’t just about learning how to tend to a garden and growing fruits and vegetables, but it is also designed to teach them different life skills that can be applied at home.
This year’s lesson was drafted from a curriculum used at the University of South Alabama’s psychology department, according to Denton.
“We integrate the lessons of conflict resolution with the garden, ya know, we need to weed out bullying, we need to weed out name calling in our lives, we need to nourish all the plants,” said Denton.
Program Director at Taylor Park Community Center, Marie Chestange, said this program is a needed resource for the area.
“Most of them don’t have gardens at home and they’re not exposed to gardening so it’s a good thing, they bring in the vegetables and they’re learning how to eat different things that they may not be introduced to and so, for the most part, they really enjoy it,” said Chestange.
Along with getting involved with the garden, the young people also help local artist, Zach DePolo, create different mural masterpieces including the most recent one which depicts the Taylor Park band, The Marching Panthers, on the outside of the community building.
“There’s so many talented kids in this area specifically, in this community center so we’re trying to lift up their music program, along with the neighborhood,” said DePolo. “The most important thing is to give focus to people and places that feel forgotten.”
Mobile County Juvenile Court Judge Edmond Naman said Taylor Park Community Garden will now be known as a place to heal and a place to change your life.
“We knew that if we built something special in a place for them to come and a place for them to have fun but also learn and also be loved and mentored and inspired, that this could really make a difference and what a difference it has made,” said Naman.
The Taylor Park Community Center, The Juvenile Court of Mobile County, The Family Intervention Team, the Mobile Police Department and the Mobile Urban Growers are all collaborating on the program.