Shreveport residents with disabilities now have greater access to fresh produce, preventive healthcare, physical activity, and community involvement. This is thanks to accessibility improvements made at a local community health hub. All residents can now learn how to make healthful lifestyle choices while receiving free health screenings and building meaningful connections with their neighbors.
Many Louisiana residents living in underserved neighborhoods have limited access to nutritious food, healthcare, and knowledge of healthful eating and cooking. Although nutrition lessons and health screenings are available at a community health hub in Shreveport, many residents with disabilities did not have the accessibility they needed to fully participate.
LSU AgCenter SNAP-Ed teamed up with the Mooretown Community Faith Garden over 10 years ago. They provide garden-based nutrition education, coordinate volunteer workdays, and connect the community to regional resources. In January 2021, the garden coordinator, Ruby Small, formed a steering committee. The committee included members of the We Grow Together! coalition, the LSU School of Allied Health, and the LSU AgCenter. Together, they discussed making the garden more accessible to children and adults with disabilities. In March 2021, a group of occupational therapy students assisted the committee with developing a plan.
By May 2021, the group installed:
• A communication board
• A garden tool practice station
• Game stations including non-verbal hopscotch and a number stomp
• A sensory garden including fragrant herbs
"The occupational therapy students have really helped to make the garden a better place for all our neighbors. Children and adults with disabilities can come to the garden and join in the activities. One child who is unable to speak is using the communication picture board as a way to 'talk' about his needs. His grandmother installed one in their home so it can help him there as well," said Ms. Small.
The occupational therapy students have agreed to continue their partnership with the Mooretown Community Faith Garden. They will host regular workdays and address other community needs at that site. Through this project, LSU AgCenter SNAP-Ed and the LSU School of Allied Health are reaching people with disabilities in a community setting. The community now has a model for planning and installing accessibility features at additional community health hubs.
SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework Indicators
ST7, ST8, MT5, MT6
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Grace Peterson, PhD