In May of this year, Archways Autism support specialist Marylou Motyka secured a $4000 Grant form Makepeace, Inc. to conduct a pilot project for their Ambassadors of Autism and The Environment Program. Our own Joshua Hawes accepted the award on 6/13/16. Way to go Josh!  The A.D. Makepeace grant was written with the intent of giving our project members access to three important areas of concentration within the community setting as a volunteer group. These areas include open space conservation and preservation, organic farming and agriculture, and education regarding the preservation of the environment.  These individuals will be positioned to demonstrate their ability to be contributing members of society while naturally increasing autism awareness, paving the way to future volunteer and employment opportunities for themselves and others on the autism spectrum. The initiative will also expose the participants to the importance of conservation and preservation of open space, protecting wildlife and farming so that they can become passionate ambassadors of the environment.

To accomplish this goal a partnership was established with Southeast Wildlands Trust, Inc. where the team is maintaining two sustainable living garden beds at their headquarters on Long Pond Road in Plymouth, grooming a trail across from the headquarters and becoming stewards of their butterfly gardens where they are advocating for and helping accomplish a wheelchair ramp for greater accessibility, increasing inclusionary opportunities, visibility, awareness and contributions without barriers for the whole community.

Debbie D’Isabel, of Wildlands Trust, Inc. says “It has been a joy to work with everyone from The Arc and partner together.  Being outside in natural surroundings benefits everyone and Wildlands Trust is committed to facilitating those opportunities.  We are all impressed with the group’s green thumbs and have been cheering the success of their garden bed in the Trust’s new community garden at Davis-Douglas Farm.  We recently took a tour of a trail the ARC group will “adopt” by taking weekly walks and reporting on trail conditions to our Property Manager.  We look forward to continuing to work with Marylou and her wonderful group.

The project is ongoing through November 2016 and beyond. Team Leader is Josh Hawes and Assistant Team Leader is Joe McGovern. One of the group’s member, Jessica Stanley,  said of the project “ this is so cool!” along with Joe McGovern who stated “I like learning about plants”.