HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The National Children’s Advocacy Center has a brand new garden in its backyard, but it is not meant to just be something to look at; it’s a therapy garden for the hundreds of child abuse victims they serve.
The garden is built in a way that engages all five senses.
“They can come here, they can focus on the sights and the textures and the sights and the smells that help ground them to this particular moment and get them away from the memories of the bad things that have happened,” NCAC Intervention and Clinical Director Erica Hochberger said.
Engaging the senses is crucial for a technique the child therapists use, called ‘grounding.’
“It means grounding yourself to the present moment,” Hochberger said.”[To] know that they are safe right now. They are healthy, they are okay.”
The Advocacy Center worked with Across the Pond owner Trevor Cole to design the space in a way that would maximize the ways they could use the grounding technique.
“Feng Shui is a part of it. Plants, the different fragrances, the different smells, plants that are edible,” Cole said.
The Center conducts about two forensic interviews each day with children, meaning hundreds per year, but the programs they offer, which include therapy, serve even more.
“The need is just astronomical, and the kids we do see, the symptoms are more severe,” Hochberger said.
Supplies for the garden were paid for by a grant, but every minute of labor was provided by dozens of volunteers from the Huntsville Madison County Builders Association and Across the Pond.
“It’s what we do. We’re all responsible for community, and we have to take care of the people around us,” Cole said.
The garden is now completed and operational.