Dobbs Elementary’s garden grows healthy habits and caring hearts

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Sharon Ford-Parker and her class were first time participants in the 2016 I Am Here photo contest and were the grade level winners for sixth grade.

“I am always looking for something that expands students’ horizons and education, especially opportunities for them to help the community and show they have a heart for helping people, because I have a heart for helping people,” said Ford-Parker.

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Her students used that mindset in spending their $1,000 award. “We brainstormed as a class. We first looked at what our school was missing and what could bring our community together,” said a sixth grade student.

The students landed on building a new outdoor learning space and community garden. With the help of Kansas City Community Gardens, they installed two garden beds already in use this spring. New picnic tables will give students a place to work outside and eat lunch near the garden. They also are working with district administration to extend the walking path so gardens will be more accessible to all students and community members.

This spring the students grew and harvested cilantro, lettuce, cabbage, kale and radishes. When Ford-Parker gave them the choice to create dishes with their harvest for a class party or bring it home to their families, the students overwhelming wanted to bring it home.

“They were so proud of the produce, they just had to bring it home to show it off,” said Ford-Parker.

They have already planted peppers and tomatoes for this summer. During the break, the garden will be tended by Ford-Parker, students and community members who are dedicated to seeing the garden succeed. A local church has even offered to sponsor and install a third garden bed.

Recently, the students received another high honor. At the district-wide sixth grade field day, they received the Outstanding Sportsmanship Award. The students were more proud of this award than any of the events they won that day. The young leaders at Dobbs have shown that they are dedicated to creating a caring and active community.

Ms. Ford-Parker and students show off the new garden beds.

The walking path and area for picnic tables.

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