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Civic Impact

Three shades of green: fountain, treehouse, wishing well are therapy at Children's Institute ...


"It's going to be immeasurable, the change for the kids," says David K. Miles, president and CEO of The Children's Institute, about the new Nimick Family Therapeutic Garden that opened June 18 at the Squirrel Hill facility.

What was once a few flower beds amid crumbling flagstone is now a 10,000-square-foot garden designed to be enjoyed by children with severe disabilities. Along its path are a sunflower-shaped fountain whose flow can be changed just by rolling past; a ramp-accessible treehouse; a bench that plays sounds; a large variety of shrubs, flowers and ornamental grasses; and raised planting beds for the kids to practice fine motor and language skills as they learn to garden.

It also features special lighting, a wishing well, sculptures and a pavilion. The idea is to engage the senses and provide a relaxing escape for both kids and their loved ones. The garden is accessible via a new path running from the Institute's Shady Avenue parking lot along the garden to Northumberland Street.

Miles, once a teacher in the Institute's day school, is certain current teachers will be using the garden for lessons in the fall. But he was happy to see families already enjoying the place -- including neighborhood kids. "It's only been a few days and I'm already overwhelmed with how many people are using it," he says. "We're really inviting the community in to find out what we're about."

Writer: Marty Levine
Source: David K. Miles, The Children's Institute
Image courtesy of The Children's Institute
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