KPMAS Helps the Community ‘Grow’ with REAL School Gardens


By Brooke Ballenger

On June 4 and June 11, Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States (KPMAS) partnered with nonprofit REAL School Gardens to build a learning garden at two local elementary schools: Templeton Elementary in Riverdale, Maryland and Mary Harris Mother Jones Elementary in Adelphi, Maryland. By creating engaging learning environments in low-income schools, REAL School Gardens strives to close the achievement gap between lower and upper income students.

Learning gardens are known to be extremely beneficial for students as they can help increase student engagement, social skills, test scores, and many more. KPMAS was proud to lend a hand at the events and help create a dynamic classroom for children to build skills that will last a lifetime.

Several KPMAS volunteers participated and showed their support at both events. Our volunteers participated in numerous ways such as painting, fence building, laying topsoil, planting, and helping in any area that was needed.

Matthew Larson, KPMAS Rehabilitative Services Supervisor, who participated in both events, stated, “It was rewarding to help the children and work with others in the Hispanic community, even though I didn’t speak their language.” People of all ethnicities came to support one another and work towards a better education for children.

Folasade Ogundipe, KPMAS physical therapist, was excited about the opportunity to volunteer for this event. “It was such a wonderful experience meeting individuals from Congo, Tanzania, and Shanghai,” she stated. Ogundipe not only helped by building the garden but also by attending to the volunteers around her. She passed around ice cold bandanas to cool down volunteers who were working in the scorching heat. Through this hard work and compassion for others, we played a great role in giving children a brighter future.

REAL School Gardens has already planned their next event for the fall, and we are excited to provide even more of a helping hand. Thank you to all who came out for the past two REAL School Garden events and made it such a success. Because of your help, more students will be able to learn, prosper, and THRIVE. Check out some photos from both of the events below.

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