Organizations partner to create gnome garden for accessible park

Local News

KETTERING, Ohio (WDTN) — Two local organizations are teaming up to create a magical garden where children of all abilities can play.

The project is a collaboration between We Care Arts in Kettering and Owen’s Place in Beavercreek.

“Art takes you away from your normal day of whatever your normal day is, and I think people get bored with their normal day. So it takes you away from that and makes you feel like you’re using your abilities to create, and that’s a good feeling to create,” states artist Leslie Dunnick.

Artists are painting garden gnomes to create a whimsical world and decorate a universally accessible playground for children.

“Art is pretty much everything–that and storytelling,” states artist Andi Fasimpaur. “I live with depression and anxiety. I have a panic disorder. Really it’s very easy for me to withdraw from everyone and everything, and art gives me something to keep me kind of tethered.”

“We Care Arts works with individuals with developmental disabilities. We also work with people who are recovering from a stroke or have mental health diagnoses. Some of those individuals, they’ve had a really hard time with the pandemic or pre-pandemic, they have heightened anxiety or depression or they’ve lost a loved one,” states Executive Director Darlene Langhout.

“I first started coming because it got me out and about instead of isolating myself. I got out and to be around other people and stuff that seemed to help with depression,” says artist Tonia Watkins.

With the garden gnome project, support between the organizations is reciprocal.

“Our audiences are very alike. People from Owen’s Place appreciate We Care Arts, and We Care Arts appreciates Owen’s Place,” says Langhout.

Both organizations help turn disabilities into possibilities.

“You can do anything you put your mind to,” says artist Stephanie Johnson.

For $25, people can sponsor a garden gnome; the money goes to support programs at We Care Arts.

An installation ceremony will be held at Owen’s Place in May.

To sponsor a gnome, click here.

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