NEW CANAAN, Conn. – Courtesy of a space grant from Grace Farms Foundation in New Canaan, STAR clients with developmental disabilities are enjoying the resources of Grace Farms.
The River building — designed by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of the Pritzker Prize-winner architecture firm SANAA — houses Grace Farm’s activities and includes a library, site of the STAR group’s book club.
The entire 1,400-foot-square-foot building meanders up a slope while blending into the site’s wetlands and woodlands. STAR clients attending their book club at Grace Farms are free to enjoy the building and 80 acres of Grace Farms designed by top landscape architects to include open meadows, woods, trails, wetlands and ponds, and native flora and fauna.
Mark Fowler, nature and wildlife ambassador at Grace Farms, met with members of the STAR Book Club at Grace Farms and led them on a hike and tour of the grounds with explanations about the trails, ponds, unique birds such as the falcons and kestrel nesting boxes, and different species of trees, shrubs and other sights.
“Today, we are more connected than ever in the digital world, but we have also never been more disconnected from the natural world. I believe that with our 80-acre Grace Farms preserve we have a real chance to inspire people from all backgrounds and abilities to reconnect with the natural world which surrounds us and feel the awe and wonder that nature can provide,” said Fowler.
“This experience with Grace Farms is an amazing opportunity and very positive experience for our clients. Those with intellectual disabilities can build and develop their reading, speech, social and interaction skills in a unique, relaxing and energizing nature-based aesthetic environment. We are so very excited about this opportunity courtesy of Grace Farms Foundation,” said Katie Banzhaf, executive director of STAR.
STAR, Inc., Lighting the Way is a not-for-profit organization serving individuals of all ages who have intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as providing support services to their families. It provides services in Norwalk, New Canaan, Wilton, Weston, Westport and Darien.