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Sylvanvale Foundation


The Inclusive Classroom





Funding Dates

November 2017 - December 2018

The issue

A lack of social connections and poor health continue to be common issues that disproportionately affect people with disability. Research indicates that people with a profound disability are nine times less likely to participate in activities outside their home, with 56% having experienced difficulties with social inclusion.

Health outcomes for people with disability are also of concern with over 50% of Australians with severe or profound disability experiencing poor or fair health, as compared to 6% of those without disability.

In 1947, Sylvanvale was established in Sutherland Shire, NSW by a group of parents who wanted to give their children with intellectual disability a better quality of life through access to education and social inclusion. Sylvanvale now supports more than 750 children and adults with intellectual disability across Sydney and the Blue Mountains.

The project

Our funding will assist Sylvanvale in delivering The Inclusive Classroom project, a therapeutic permaculture space that promotes healthy lifestyles and social connections for children and young people of all abilities.

The project includes a structured gardening and nutrition program run by a trained horticulture therapist once per week after school and during school holidays, for young people of all abilities aged between 5 and 17.

The hands-on program will include theory-based lessons covering all tasks necessary to prepare, maintain, harvest and cook produce from permaculture gardens.

Participants will also be invited to showcase their achievements and sell their produce at a Diversity Market.

The impact

The Inclusive Classroom project will help overcome some of the social isolation experienced by people with disability and their families, connecting them to the natural environment, the community and trusted support services.

Using a customised therapeutic permaculture space, children and young people of all abilities will:

  • Improve their social wellbeing by having opportunities to connect and support each other in a welcoming, accessible environment;
  • Gain access to reliable health and nutrition education from trained horticulture therapist's, staff and volunteers;
  • Improve their physical wellbeing through planting, growing and cooking their own food; and
  • Improve their communication, fitness and physical ability, and confidence.

Therapeutic Horticulture has also proven social, psychological and physical benefits for vulnerable people including those with disabilities.

In addition, young people with and without disabilities, will develop an improved awareness and knowledge of nutrition and healthy eating habits, increase their number of social connections and improve their confidence, communication and physical ability.

To learn more about the program visit Sylvanvale Foundation.