Zoe Sockriter, 17, wanted to do something nice for her community, and for her last project as an American Heritage Girl. Inspired by a sensory garden — a type of landscape that aims for multiple …
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Zoe Sockriter, 17, wanted to do something nice for her community, and for her last project as an American Heritage Girl. Inspired by a sensory garden — a type of landscape that aims for multiple sensory impacts on visitors — that she had seen while vacationing with her family in Estes Park, Sockriter has spent the past year fundraising and recruiting volunteers to help install a sensory garden at Evans Park.
The garden, which she designed herself, sits at the bottom of the ballfields, along the roundabout that connects the new Elizabeth town trail to the park.
“I wanted to dedicate this garden to the children with disabilities in town,” said Sockriter. “I have a nephew who has autism.”
The garden includes a shady bench that looks out over the trail, and original artwork made of repurposed tires, some painted like a caterpillar, and one painted in the likeness of the American flag. Flower boxes include Russian sage and irises, and a river of blue rocks flow through the area. Wind spinners hang from the tree, and a small garden attracts butterflies for visitors to observe.
Sockriter spent two days working with volunteers to install the garden, which she called Stars and Stripes. She completed the garden Aug. 8, and sadly, just a few days later, someone had vandalized the project.
“They tore up a couple of the tires, which were anchored in concrete, and rolled them down the hill in the park,” said Sockriter. “It was just devastating to see that someone didn't care about my efforts and those of the volunteers that helped me.”
Sockriter removed one of the tire pieces, but less than a week later, vandals had struck again.
“I had a tire structure that was three painted tires stacked on top of each other,” said Sockriter. “Those same kids, I'm guessing, came in and took them apart and took a piece from another structure and threw them down the hill.”
Sockriter has taken one structure out completely, and is still hoping to replace another one, but fears the vandals might just continue destroying her work.
“I have some wind chimes that I was hoping to put in as part of the sound and listen part of the garden,” said Sockriter. “But I'm afraid they'll steal them.”
News of the vandalism sparked outrage on social media, with residents suggesting installing cameras around the installation to catch the vandals, and offers of help to replace some of the structures.
But for Sockriter, the damage done goes deeper than monetary values placed on the artwork.
“Look at what you're doing and you're making other people feel,” said Sockriter. “Someone put a lot of work into this project and to have it taken apart and vandalized could really hurt some people at heart. A lot of people worked on this and were looking forward to this garden, a lot of them with disabilities, and you took that away from them.”
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