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Students Create Wheelchair-Accessible Garden for Local Man

December 04, 2013

Garden Project  
STLCC-Meramec horticulture students worked to make Jerry
Weisbrod’s garden wheelchair accessible.

Students from the St. Louis Community College-Meramec Horticulture Club and Physical Therapy Assistants Club, as well as students and faculty from Saint Louis University Physical Therapy program, collaborated on a project to create a wheelchair-accessible garden for a St. Louis man.

After working his way through more than five years of school to become a physical therapist in his 30s, Jerry Weisbrod was stricken with a brain tumor that left him unable to work and unable to walk without assistance. STLCC horticulture student Dara Mattern led the project, assisted by fellow students Anna Koch, Chris Aiken and John Payne. The group designed and implemented a plan that will enable Weisbrod to take part in an activity he enjoys – gardening. 

“(The students) spent most of the summer gathering information and putting a design together,” said Jerry Pence, who coordinates the STLCC Horticulture program. “They divided the space into four sections and each took charge of designing their section, then came back together and put together the master plan.”

Phase 1 of the multiphase project is complete. It involved designing a landscape around an existing walkway in the backyard of Weisbrod’s home.

Garden 2  
Students worked on the wheelchair-accessible garden for Jerry
Weisbrod during the summer and fall.

Students from the STLCC PTA Club and Saint Louis University provided labor, spreading topsoil and laying sod. The goal is to focus the design of the landscape so Weisbrod can not only enjoy the garden, but also work in it.

“The plan is set up so that the Weisbrods can install it as they have the time and money to do so,” Pence said. “There are people that I believe are in the process of trying to get some grants to help them with further installation of the project.”

Pence is pleased with the work his students completed.

“I’m very proud that those four students stepped up and volunteered to help with this project,” said Pence. “It was not easy for them to keep it going through the summer, with everyone working different hours, but they persevered and completed it. Dara really took charge and carried the whole thing through, keeping on everyone and making sure things were done to a high level.”