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Evelyn’s Scholarship Story

How has ICG’s scholarship impacted your family?

First off, it’s allowed us to attend camp. Bottom line. That’s pretty important. Without the scholarship my children would not have been able to attend camp. We do not live in the county. We live out of state and my family has been through a very difficult time. My children and I have been living in a very difficult situation with domestic abuse. As a single mom who is a domestic abuse survivor, I can say that resources are not always as plentiful as people might think, and when a program comes through that is able to offer my children a sense of normalcy amidst what they have experienced or are experiencing and can provide an opportunity to have a good time being children and having a healthy, supportive childhood experience, that can be very impactful. Knowing they’re in a safe place also allows me to go and advocate for them in other spheres.

What does your child get out of participating in ICG’s program?

My kids and I live in a place where there’s not a lot of nature or opportunities to just be outdoors in nature all day. We live in a pretty urban space so opportunities to hike or be with animals or bugs or flowers and appreciate the natural world are very limited, and yet my children really thrive in that environment. The week that they spend each summer at Ithaca Children’s Garden has them immersed in the natural world and that’s invaluable. Since we can’t have it every day or every week throughout the year, that one week is very precious for them.

Do you see ICG translating to other areas of your child’s life? If so, how?

Because we’re not able to visit ICG regularly, it’s something they do once a year and they treasure the experience. They have a sense of ownership about it. When they go into their regular life, they are able to compare new experiences to their experience at the Children’s Garden which felt very natural and affirming to them. They thrive in a more rural environment even though we can’t live in one right now. When they’re in their urban environment throughout the year, they’re able to hold on to that experience and compare the differences and that sense of perspective gives them a wisdom that is valuable. My kids are able to see the comparison because of the opportunity they have at the Children’s Garden.

Throughout the year, they’ll say things to me about it…”remember when I did this or made this at the children’s garden” or maybe we’ll hear a news story about a butterfly or a plant, “I learned that at the Children’s Garden,” and they’ll share a fact or relate an experience. It has a really strong impact on them because they remember information that was so hands-on, they’ll return to that experience and that knowledge as they’re moving through school or other activities that they encounter in their day to day life.

How did you first learn about ICG’s scholarship program?

My friends and family in the area had loved sending their kids and encouraged me to look into it. Everybody that spoke about it said their kids really enjoyed it.

Anything we can do to improve ICG’s scholarship program?

Honestly I think the scholarship program is very very good. I think it’s absolutely accessible. I think that it is easy – incredibly easy to use. That is unusual, very unusual for many programs. I’ve found the staff to be quickly responsive every single time when we’re working on enrollment. I think the whole program is organized fairly so that people can participate. We were offered scholarships within my means and I felt like it was reasonable. It was one of the very best- if not the very best program- I’ve worked with over these years in my situation.

Anything else?

I’m so grateful for this experience. It means the world to my children, honestly. I can’t give them the upbringing that my family and I enjoyed. I can’t allow them to grow in the space that I think would be best for them, so for me as a mother, to be able to offer them that is just priceless.  People who live in the area might not understand, people who can choose the resource every day might not appreciate it as much, but I want to emphasize how much it means that it is there and that it is available. It is so special that children like mine who may be in circumstances that are not ideal are able to experience that connection with nature that is really important for our future environmental generations on every level: the emotional, mental, and physical levels for the kids and the families who are involved in the scholarship program. We know our children are in safe hands, in a loving environment, and they’re going to have fun, and that they’re getting that immersion and appreciation of nature that we know is so important for their generation moving forward. I just want to express my gratitude in that way for this program and this opportunity. 

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