Heart of H.O.P.E. to Teach Base Children How to Garden, Create Positive Experiences

Holly Logan-Arrington

Wednesday, March 24th, 2021

Like the military child’s official flower, the dandelion, military children learn to plant themselves wherever the service takes their families.

On April 1, the beginning of Month of the Military Child, the Integrated Resilience and Prevention Office at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, will officially dedicate part of the H.O.P.E. Garden to children use.

This portion of the garden will be designated as the Children’s Heart of H.O.P.E. and will give all children with base access a place to plant positive childhood experiences, while learning about gardening from local gardening volunteers.

The H.O.P.E. Garden, located on Club Drive at Robins, was created and dedicated in September 2020 as a place of calm for visitors. H.O.P.E. – Help is available; Opportunities exist; People care; Expect something good to happen – is a Robins-driven campaign that highlights different resiliency tools and lanes of advocacy for Team Robins personnel and families.

Stuart Bapties, Team Robins Violence Prevention Integrator who has coordinated and managed implementation of H.O.P.E. since it began in early 2020, said the Children’s Heart of H.O.P.E. gives children in the Robins community their own small plot of land to decorate throughout the year.

“The Children’s Heart of H.O.P.E. is a place to give children the opportunity to learn gardening and other skills from our volunteer master gardeners throughout the year and to have a place to call their own,” he said.

Bapties said the new garden will provide positive childhood experiences that help with self-esteem and confidence, as well as stress management.

“Studies show that children who have these positive childhood experiences perform better in school, have an easier time forming social connections, and have better overall mental and physical health later in life,” he said.

Robins will dedicate the new section of the H.O.P.E. Garden at its opening event April 1, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“We have 100 small areas already sectioned off and plenty of room to expand and section off more,” Bapties said.

Donna Hunt, a volunteer master gardener who has helped organize volunteers to work in the garden since 2019 and more recently with the children’s section of the H.O.P.E. Garden, said she expects the Children’s Heart of H.O.P.E. will help children in many ways.

“The garden has several benefits,” she said. “It brings kids together in a safe environment. It allows kids to be creative and to have some ownership of their garden space. We hope to have a monthly activity that will build a stronger community between families.”

Bapties said all gardening tools and supplies for the free event will be provided by community partners and there is no pre-registration required to attend the event.

The outdoor event will also include games and displays for children.

Bapties said all Centers for Disease Control COVID-19 precautions, including social distancing and masks, as well as wiping down areas, will be observed at the event.

For more information, contact Stuart Bapties at 478-327-5439 or by e-mail at stuart.bapties@us.af.mil.