Therapeutic horticulture for special needs students is making a difference in the way some Knoxville Tennessee students are learning.

Soft SkillsOnce a week, Austin-East High School’s special education class meets outdoors. They are part of a hands-on class at the University of Tennessee Gardens.

“It’s good, cause you can see trees and you can see flowers,” said Chance Monroe, a student.

“Austin-East is an inner-city school, you know that, so a lot of these kids don’t have the chance to go out and garden or to get out where they can see things growing and pick things. So we come here with David who leads us on the greatest adventures. We plant seeds, we watch them grow,” said comprehensive education teacher P. Jaye Clark.

David is UT graduate assistant David Pease, who teaches the therapeutic horticulture class. One of his favorite moments occurred when a non-verbal student attempted to speak.

“We had planted these seeds in the greenhouse and then they came back a couple of weeks later. And when he saw these seeds had sprouted, and had his name on it, and it was time to transplant them, he started talking and was excited. And he knew what they were and it was just a beautiful moment,” said Pease.

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