On Wednesday, June 6, as part of the Festival of Sustainable Development, LUISS presented results of the first two years of its gardening program for autistic youth. The program is sponsored by Insettopia Onlus to promote social inclusion through the University’s community garden, in collaboration with Progetto Aita Onlus and the Ministry of Education.
Inaugurating this year’s course were LUISS General Manager Giovanni Lo Storto, the program founder Gianluca Nicoletti and program coordinator Luigi Mazzone. The event also inaugurated the program’s web site, offering families, associations and institutions information on educational and workforce-preparation models for autistic people to encourage replication.
Led by a team of specialists, the initiative welcomed 18 students on the autistic spectrum to test the program as a replicable model and its benefits for the autism community.
The program is based on individual goals, designed specifically for each participant, and group goals, such as understanding spatial boundaries. The program furthermore includes autonomy training exercises, such as making purchases at the nearby café.
During the course, participants will learn to transplant, plant seeds and to water to become familiar with basic gardening skills. Skills will be implemented gradually, with a focus on the process of plant-grow-food.
Another phase of the program welcomes a group of LUISS students who share their expertise in web design and diversity management to develop best pratices in managing projects with disabled communities.
The event also included testimony from parents of program participants and from LUISS students who were part of the 2016 program.