Updated: Aug 23
When thinking of what to base his Eagle Scout Project on, Raul Companioni III decided that he wanted to do something that would benefit others. He knew that his brother's school, Divine Academy, had just recently moved into a new building. Since Divine Academy is a school for children with autism, he came up with the idea to build a sensory garden for his brother and the other students. The Divine Academy Family is extremely grateful for Raul's thoughtful gesture. Here's what Raul had to say about creating the sensory Garden:
"My Eagle Project is done. Well for the most part. Now, the hardest part of completing a 35 page portfolio and presenting it to the council starts. I am pretty happy with the way it turned out. We still have more rocks, tree faces to install and a plaque on the way. There was a lot of thought put into this project.
When deciding what to do for my project I asked myself what or who needed the help the most. Was it my new school? My old school? An ALF? A park? Who could benefit from my project? And then it hit me. The kids from the school my brother goes to just moved to a new building. Why not give them a face lift. So I spoke to my mom and she helped me decide what the kids could benefit most from. Hence the "Divine Sensory Garden" came to life. I researched what items go into a sensory garden. It needed something they could see, hear, touch, smell and even taste. It has to be a place that brought peace, made students feel safe and calm, and a place of inspiration. Everything in this garden has a purpose or meaning behind it.
- Wind chimes: Wind chimes provide tranquil sounds that can help calm a child in distress. They provide soothing sounds that can lift anyone's spirit.
- Garden decor: We selected garden decor that could brighten any child's day. They are bright, colorful, and cheery.
- Rocking chairs: As we know kids with special needs, specifically ASD, like to rock themselves. It's a form of stimulation which helps to ease and soothe them.
- Garden flag: 'In a world where you can be anything...be kind.' This is especially true for the kids that attend Divine Academy. Most of them are there because of bullying issues at other schools. This is a reminder that they are safe at Divine Academy.
- Shared Library: This little library was put there to give students an opportunity to read and relax. Reading takes us to places. This may be the only form of escape from reality for these kids. So grab a book and transport yourself to another world.
- Stump and Tic-Tac-Toe: Grab a red chair and join a friend for a simple game of Tic-Tac-Toe. This area promotes conversation, social skills, turn-taking skills, and some friendly competition.
- Bird bath and fountain: Studies show that watching nature (birds) can help relax anyone. The sound of water tricking and splashing is also soothing.
- Cocoon swing: This type of swing provides sensory input for those kids that get overstimulated. It makes them feel comfort and safe. Plus who doesn't like swinging.
- Flowers, plants, and herbs: The plants used in this garden all have a purpose. You can feel their different textures, smell their scents, and even taste them (herbs). There are sunflowers, gardenia, Arabian jasmine, ginger plants, rosemary etc...
- Spinners: Spinners were chosen to be a focal point. You can relax and get hypnotized by watching spinners go round and round. These provide tranquility. The butterfly spinner was specifically chosen because the butterfly represents transformation and hope.
- Painted rocks: I wanted the garden to be bright and colorful. I wanted it to be inspirational. I wanted it to be a place where the kids would enjoy going to. So with the help of my mom, we posted a request for painted rocks on my mom's Instagram account. We had an overwhelming response to this request, as you can see in the garden. These rocks are as special as each person that painted them. I wanted our friends, family and members of the community to have a piece of them in this project. Some are simple, beautiful, funny and some have some inspiring messages to encourage the students.
- Snoopy Scout: I wanted to include a symbol of something that would remind the students and staff of who made this project possible. I hid a Snoopy dressed as a scout. See if you can find him. Hint: He is overlooking the whole project and garden just as I did.
I am so glad I chose to do this garden at Divine Academy. Not only will my brother enjoy it but so many others will too. I hope it will remind everyone what scouting represents. The Scout law says 'A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.' I hope I have proven that with my project. It has been my honor to do my Eagle Scout Project for your school."
There is a gift in giving, and we pray that what Raul did for our students comes back to him ten-fold. Every detail, every plant, every rock, every day that you and your troop gave to us will be much appreciated. We will forever be thankful!
To learn more about Divine Academy, call us now at (954) 499-4638.