Special Serenity Garden Coming to Wekiwa Springs Park

Serenity Garden Final Concept

Serenity Garden Final Concept, Click to download plan

After months of detailed fine tuning, the final concept design for the Serenity Garden at Wekiwa Springs State has now been completed. Even though construction has not yet started, the garden, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, has already attracted the attention of the medical and therapeutic community.

Faculty and graduate students from Adventist University of Health Science’s Occupational Therapy Department recently spent two days at the site as groundwork for the first evidence-based research study to be performed at the garden.

The ongoing study will explore quality of life impacts of the Serenity Garden’s design and programs for four specified groups: seniors, people who have lost their sight, Wounded Warrior Veterans, and children and adults with autism.

National and regional expertise has been engaged in designing the garden according to the evidence-based principles established by the American Therapeutic Horticultural Association. The garden, the first of its kind in any state or national park, represents the next innovative wave in the movement to expand equitable access to nature for people of all ages and diverse abilities.

It will offer a peaceful, welcoming retreat in which people of all ages and abilities can feel comfortable while enjoying unique experiences surrounded by nature. The garden, which has doubled in size, will transform one-acre of disturbed land behind the existing nature education center. Lushly landscaped with a regional palette of native plants, the garden will feature interactive and sensory elements, and enhanced opportunities for relaxation, exercise, social gathering, education, and therapeutic programming.

The use of specialty gardens for the enrichment of human health and wellness dates all the way back to the Middle Ages. In the 21st century, here in the United States, research at major hospitals and universities began to produce a body of modern evidence, and it is now understood that time spent in green spaces can benefit human health in ways both culturally significant and scientifically measurable.
Through its participation in this research, the American Therapeutic Horticultural Association eventually solidified a set of evidence-based principles which became the standards for the development of gardens used for therapeutic purposes.

Gardens now serve in therapeutic capacities at many hospitals, rehabilitation centers, psychiatric facilities, nursing homes and vocational rehabilitation programs all across the country but none are as comprehensive as the Serenity Garden at Wekiwa.

The landscape architecture has been specifically designed to the highest possible standards and purposes of accessibility, universal design, education, safety, and enjoyment by visitors of all ages and abilities. The design represent a seamless melding of highly accessible features that support sensory, physical, and emotional restoration and revitalization for visitors with diverse needs and abilities, and facilitates the highest possible level of enhanced opportunity and engagement for recreational activity, exercise, educational, and therapeutic programming for visitors of all ages and abilities.

Detailed site plans are now being prepared to allow work on the hardscape to begin in the next few weeks.

For more information go to www.serenity-wekiwa.com.

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Read our latest newsletter

President’s Letter

pavilion_image1It’s been another busy year in the park with lots for all our volunteers to do.
Construction of the new Interpretive Pavilion which will house the new nature
center, is also complete. The move will allow the concession to expand and,
hopefully, make lots more money for the park, and our new location is going to
be much more prominent—at the top of the green above the springs so everyone
should be able to see us.
The move will be a complicated one but we hope the downtime when the nature
center is closed can be kept to a minimum. It will also allow us to plan the new
nature centre so that we can better display our exhibits and have more hands-on
activities for the children.
The 26th Annual Real Florida 5K and 10K race and fun walk took place in the
park on February 23rd and the annual PaintOut, sponsored by Wekiva Island
and WSSP, took place from March 3-10th. Both events were very successful
and between them made a profit of almost $15,000. Next year’s Real Florida
run is on Saturday, February 22 and the Paint Out runs from March 2-8.
River Patrol goes from strength to strength with 10 new volunteers successfully
completing the water safety training course. As a result, we were able to have
volunteers patrolling the Wekiva in force each day of the Labor Day holiday
weekend. Another training class will be held soon and if you are interested in
taking this to volunteer for River Patrol, let me know.
pavilion_image2Volunteers act as ambassadors—able to answer questions, help river users in
trouble and look out for fallen trees and other maintenance tasks that need to be
done. The presence of the River Patrol also discourages people from breaking
park and river rules and regulations. It is fun, rewarding and necessary so please
consider it.
We’d love to welcome you on board.

For whole newsletter and great photos of the new pavilion click link below:

newsletter5.Fall13

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