ADU Partners with Florida DEP to Develop Innovative Serenity Garden for People of All Abilities at Wekiwa Springs State Park

Oct. 4, 2017 – Members of Adventist University of Health Sciences’ (ADU) Occupational Therapy (OT) department are working with internationally recognized therapeutic design consultant, Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, FAOTA, offering their expertise to the Serenity Garden at Wekiwa Springs State Park. This unique garden is among the first of its kind in the nation, and is a monumental step towards providing equal access to nature for all.

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The Serenity Garden will offer visitors a restorative, green oasis designed to promote healing, stimulate the senses, and reduce stress for people of all ages and abilities. Programming is in development that will benefit visitors, including veterans coping with PTSD, senior citizens, the visually impaired, and children and adults with autism.

In May, ADU’s OT Department and Dr. Wagenfeld participated in a two-day therapeutic design charrette. “Their contributions have truly enriched our process,” said Sarafaith Pekor, the Serenity Garden’s Director of Development. Dr. Tia Hughes, DrOT, MBA, OTR/L Department Chair, and Dr. Christine Moghimi, ScD, MAS, OTR/L Professor of the Masters in OT program, were there with three graduate students, Brittney WeaverBrittney Danehy, and Madeleine Nagy.

“The department is very excited about this project, which will provide groundbreaking opportunities for relaxation, contemplation, and education,” said Gary Clark, DEP Deputy Secretary of Land and Recreation. “Thanks to our partners, we will be able to create inclusive experiences at the park for all visitors, including people who use wheelchairs, people with autism, and those with other chronic conditions.”

The Serenity Garden at Wekiwa Springs State Park is a joint project between The Florida Department of Environmental Protection and The Wekiva Wilderness Trust– the nonprofit volunteer group that regularly partners with Wekiwa Springs State Park. You can learn more about the garden at

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