In partnership with the Austin Independent School District and the Parks & Recreation Department, we designed and built Social Emotional Learning gardens at Reilly Elementary School Park. The gardens are a sustainable, meditative space and wildlife habitat that encourages children’s healthy self-esteem, curiosity, cooperation and mental well-being through gardening and intergenerational gardening programs.

Photo of a carden. Grass and several flowers with long stalks grow surrounding a canvas sign with the words "love each other" repeating in a script font.A gravel path winds between two sections of the garden. The garden sections have grass, short trees, and flowers. A group of people can be seen through the greenery in the background of the photo.

Above photos show the completed SEL garden at Reilly School Park.

Project Description

This project focuses on community engagement as it pertains to the local residents and school through engaging gardens and workshops. The gardens are designed to bring restorative ecosystem functions as well as intergenerational learning elements through the plants and workshops. The garden is an example to the community of how to replace a lawn with native plantings, incorporate a cistern into your own watering plan at home and the benefits of edible landscaping. 

The goal of the gardens is to engage the community beyond the school through care and maintenance of the space, with each taking pride in the continued success of the landscaping. The gardens provide a much needed sense of welcome green space to an underserved section of the city. The gardens feature custom components designed in conjunction with the University of Texas and A&M students.

Objectives:

  • Engage the community in gardening
  • Illustrate ways of incorporating plants into home landscaping projects
  • Provide a community space for meetings and workshops
  • Provide an intergenerational community picnic area
  • Provide a habitat for native animals and insects

Project Schedule

  • February - May 2020: Design park
  • May - June 2020: Community and city meetings
  • December 2020: Construction began
  • May 2021: Park opened to public

A ribbon cutting ceremony took place on May 26 at 11am. Due to restrictions surrounding COVID-19 this event was not open to the public, but the public is encouraged to explore the gardens when the park opens to the community after 4pm during the weekday or on weekends.

Funding

This project was funded by the Parks with Purpose grant from the St. David’s Foundation, with support from the Parks and Recreation Department.

Community Engagement

Throughout this project, the team will be working closely with the Austin Independent School District and Parks & Recreation Department to design and implement the gardens. The coordination among the parties includes the community. 

Community Meeting #1
June 9, 6:40 – 7:00 pm
Virtual

Contact

For more information or if you have questions, email Melody Alcazar