Horticulture students have designed therapeutic gardens for juvenile detention centers in Chatham and Cumberland Counties. Now they're raising money to build them. The state will provide the land, but not funding.
Anne Spafford, an associate professor of landscape design at N.C. State University, said the gardens are intended to give juveniles a safe space to heal from trauma. Spafford hopes the program will expand once there is enough funding for the first two gardens.
“We're hitting this hard and heavy because these first two gardens have to go in this year,” she said. “Because the youth there helped us with he design, the staff helped us, and everybody there is full of hope and excitement. And so we have to start, at least start working on these gardens, getting them implemented, so they can see that something is happening.”
Spafford said the gardens will feel private and tranquil, but no part of the space will conceal the young detainees or contraband, nor be used as a weapon.
Natasha Donnelly, a sociologist with the Department of Public Safety’s North Carolina Juvenile Justice, said the green space can relieve stress for those detained and working in the centers.
“We have a hard time keeping staff,” Donnelly said. “Our staff, as well, are sort of enclosed in small places often for long hours, so for them to be able to go outside, it's going to be beneficial for both the juveniles in the settings and the staff.”
Once funds are raised to build the gardens, Donnelly plans to study whether they have an impact on recidivism rates there.
Donnelly said the garden is the first of its kind to be designed this way.
“So it's sort of exciting,” she said. “They'll basically look very beautiful but it will be designed around making sure that juveniles and staff will be safe at all times.”