Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Rusk Institute's Glass Garden to Shut Down

It's Spring, and for gardeners, this means planting season! To get geared up, Erin McSorley, Day Habilitation Specialist at Sinergia, recently attended a gardener's club meeting, where she met Gwen Fried, a horticultural therapist at the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine at NYU Medical Center. She told Erin all about the Institute and their Glass Garden, a 1,700 square-foot conservatory that was built in 1959, the first facility of its kind to be fully accessible to people using wheelchairs.  

The garden also includes around 15,000 square feet of outdoor garden space that includes a children's PlayGarden and perennial flowers. Aside from being a beautiful public space (open seven days a week), the Glass Garden functions as a rehabilitation and education center. They have a wide variety of programs available ranging from preschool nature classes to cardiac rehabilitation to therapy for individuals with Alzheimer's disease, HIV/AIDS, brain injury, epilepsy, and mental illness. Sinergia's Day Habilitation has plans to visit the Glass Garden very soon and investigate what we might learn through the prevocational training offered there.   

Unfortunately, Glass Garden's days are numbered. NYU has plans to bulldoze the area to make room for a new research center. While Gwen and her associates at the Rusk Institute can't do much to fight these changes, there are friends of the garden working hard to gain support to either save or rebuild the greenhouse and gardens. You can show your support for the Rusk Institute and Glass Garden by writing to Mark Thompson, chairman of Community Board 6, and urging him to do what he can to preserve this special place. You can also contact Erin McSorley, 212-643-2840 ext. 343 for copies of a pre-written letter to sign or a list of additional people in office to contact.Visit the Glass Garden as soon as you can, and to check out their programs and calendar of events go to www.med.nyu.edu/rusk/glassgardens

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