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Community garden dedicated to child's memory

Photo by Kathy Jefcoats
Students at Little Ones Learning Center parade around the pool-turned-community garden behind the Forest Park day care center.

Photo by Kathy Jefcoats Students at Little Ones Learning Center parade around the pool-turned-community garden behind the Forest Park day care center.

By Kathy Jefcoats

kjefcoats@news-daily.com

FOREST PARK — What was once a murky breeding ground for frogs was filled in for use as a community garden dedicated to the memory of a child who died almost two years ago after being left inside a day care van.

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Photo by Kathy Jefcoats Eli Jordan, 1, sucks his thumb as he waits for the garden dedication to start at Little Ones Learning Center.

Children at Little Ones Learning Center on Forest Avenue gathered around Friday morning for the dedication ceremony and to meet the people who made the garden possible. Their families will be able to plant vegetables for free and unused plots will be available for $15, with $5 returned if the area is cleaned after the growing season.

The pool was largely unused and was filled in to create the garden.

Center co-director Wande Meadows told the children and attendees that the garden is dedicated to the memory of Jasmin Green, 2, who died in June 2011 after being left inside a day care van in Jonesboro.

"We as child care centers need to do what we can so her legacy lives on," said Meadows.

Meadows said a plaque attesting to the garden's dedication will arrive in a few weeks to be displayed.

Little Ones took measures last year to have an alarm installed on its vans to keep such a tragedy from happening. An alarm sounds at the back when the engine is turned off, forcing the driver to walk past the seats to turn it off. Just walking past the seats may be enough to see a forgotten child and save his or her life, said Meadows.

Parent volunteer Toni Dixon handed out certificates of appreciation to former Forest Park Mayor Pro Tem Sparkle Adams for her community support, Antoine Dixon for tilling the garden and planting vegetables, and Master Gardener Charles Collins for his expert assistance and green thumb.

Others recognized were Monica Hardemon of It's Fashion Clothing Store and Home Depot for donations. The project also coincided with the Black Child Development Institute's Community Initiative.

The center got a wellness grant last year to instill in children the importance of good nutrition and healthy eating habits.

For information about the Little Community Garden, contact Toni Dixon at 678-768-9248 or email her at tonimariadixon@hotmail.com.