Monday, June 21, 2010

Exploring New Horizons

The Horizons School, a unique program for young adults with learning disabilities, recently blessed Birmingham Botanical Gardens with a summer intern. The school, now an autonomous 501(c)3, was started in 1991 by the UAB School of Education and has since helped a number of young adults (18-26) learn life lessons ranging from money management  to social skills to cooking to career training. They attend classes and seminars, take on work studies and attend socials with fellow students. After two years, these young men and women have gained invaluable lessons on independent living.

Brett Nichols has had a circuitous journey to Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Originally from Birmingham, Brett’s family moved to Alabama’s coast several years ago, where they still reside today. They spent a few years in Colorado, in between, as Brett is a lifelong lover of mountains and skiing. Brett returned to Birmingham to pursue the two-year program at the Horizons School; his parents visit him whenever they can get away from running Orange Beach’s popular Live Bait Restaurant.

Diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, Brett is a fascinating young man. Out of all of the work-study options offered around Birmingham, Brett chose Birmingham Botanical Gardens because of his passion for plants. He says his favorites are vegetables, but that he loves all plants. It’s clear he’s a product of modern life and social networking, as his eyes lit up at the idea of being included in our Garden Dirt Blog.

We caught up with Brett earlier today in the potting shed, where he was working with Greenhouse Specialty Grower (aka, Gardener Extraordinaire), Gregg Clark. Here are a few pictures of Brett’s handiwork with Aluminum Plants (Pilea cadierei).

We’d like to thank Brett for his passion for plants and his hard work in our greenhouse. As a community partner, we would also thank the Horizons School for their important work (strikingly similar to work we do with our Horticultural Therapy clients, by the way). Organizations like theirs make the world of difference enhancing lives of very important young adults, and in Brett’s case, enhancing life with plants!

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