Student builds Sensory Garden to help disabled adults

Oakmont High School athlete builds a sensory garden as part of a project for boy scouts

Valentina Moreno, Editor

“Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses,” golfer Walter Hagen once said. 

Oakmont senior Peter Constant manifested Hagen’s famous advice very literally, assembling an entire sensory garden at the Aim Higher Adult Development Center in Roseville, complete with five distinct plant beds for each of the five respective senses. 

Now one can see, touch, taste and hear the roses too. 

Sight, sound, touch, taste and smell may be simply senses to the average person, but for millions of people around the world, they are absent facets of their life, or can stimulate calming responses that are unfathomable to able bodied people. Constant thus ventured to accommodate adults with varying disabilities through his garden as a project for his Boy Scout Troop.

“The sensory garden is a garden that is specially designed to stimulate each one of the five senses,” Constant said. “I designed mine with raised planter beds to be accessible for people in wheelchairs so they can fully use the garden.”

The cumulative project was finally completed in mid-December of this year after being picked back up in February subsequent to its initiation, spanning a two year period in total.

Constant’s expansive garden aims to provide multifarious resources and accommodations for those with disabilities, supplying them with something they could not receive from a regular garden. 

“My hope is to create a center point of their recreational area and give them a place to teach, learn about gardening, and relax,” Constant said. “This will give them unlimited opportunities to use the area for all different purposes.”

Constant’s zeal for this project initially stemmed from his time working for the organization as a volunteer.

“I started volunteering with them years ago as a softball coach for their softball program and I became attached to the organization and their clients,” Constant said. “I wanted to find a way I could do more for them.” 

He decided to collaborate with the Adult Development Center in the garden to focus the benefits on adults with disabilities, who are often inadvertently overlooked.

“I met a lot of the people that participate in the program and realized how underfunded they are,” Constant said. “Adults with special needs are often forgotten about and don’t receive the attention that kids may, [which] made me more passionate about this project as this is getting them the attention they deserve.”

Constant’s identity as a Boy Scout played a considerable role in the development of his project. 

“As a scout I have learned to be patient in the process of things and to really plan out and think about all the different aspects of the project to ensure that the project runs smoothly,” Constant said. “All the leadership roles I have taken on helped me take control of the project and lead it through all the struggles.”

Ever the renaissance man, Constant’s athletic career also guided him in an indispensable way throughout the span of the garden’s development.

“As an athlete, I have been exposed to numerous volunteer opportunities that my teams have participated in, [which] helped me build a network of connections that always has opportunities to help others,” Constant said. “My teammates were an instrumental part in completing the project with the long hours they put into this project.”

In retrospect, Constant feels working on the garden in the climate of the pandemic has taught him an unprecedented, yet paramount lesson.

“I think the most valuable lesson that I have learned from this project is that no matter what you do, some things in life are uncontrollable,” Constant said. “I couldn’t control COVID-19 pushing back my project and it only made my project that much more memorable and meaningful to myself and the beneficiary.”

Constant hopes to continue working under the compass of organizations that help a multifaceted demographic of people with disabilities.

“I hope that it is something that I will always be a part of,” Constant said. “I enjoy working with people of all needs and hope to encourage more people to volunteer with organizations like Aim Higher.”