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Disability-friendly area opens at Toledo Botanical Garden


Ability Center of Greater Toledo representatives at the grand opening of the Doneghy Inclusive Garden (Eric Zernich/WNWO)
Ability Center of Greater Toledo representatives at the grand opening of the Doneghy Inclusive Garden (Eric Zernich/WNWO)
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With soothing waters and plants to trigger memories, the newest exhibit at the Toledo Botanical Garden goes beyond normal design.

The Doneghy Inclusive Garden is a space for everyone, including those with physical, mental and emotional disabilities.

For two years, Metroparks Toledo has worked with the Ability Center of Greater Toledo to design the special garden.

"We were able to implement a garden specifically for inclusion of individuals with all kinds of challenges, so this is meant to be a community garden for everyone," said Joe Fausnaugh, chief of Metroparks operations.

The garden has plants that are shown to trigger memories for people with Alzheimer's and it also has spaces designed to help those with anxiety.

"So we've built a pergola that provides not only shade, but also a safe and enclosed space where people can feel safe and secure as they are dealing with some of their challenges."

And the space allows visitors to experience all of their senses.

"We also have a water curtain that is a sensory feature that provides kind of a calming effect through the noise and the sound and you can actually come right up to it and put your hands and feet into the water."

Katie Shelley, a disability rights advocate with the Ability Center, loves the raised flower beds and was able to plant some of the flowers in the garden herself.

"It's just really cool to see how they've really created a place that is not only disability-friendly, but really friendly for everyone to make Toledo a truly inclusive place to live, play and work,” Shelley said.

With the opening of the Doneghy Inclusive Garden, Toledo is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the 100th anniversary of the Ability Center.

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