Lakeview High School art students plant flowers in pots they painted to decorate the therapy garden at Maggie’s Wigs 4 Kids of Michigan May 7.

Lakeview High School art students plant flowers in pots they painted to decorate the therapy garden at Maggie’s Wigs 4 Kids of Michigan May 7.

Photo by Deb Jacques

Planting hope at Wigs 4 Kids

Students, local volunteers come together to create therapy garden

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published May 25, 2021

 Sophomore Bella Elzerman holds a potted plant.

Sophomore Bella Elzerman holds a potted plant.

Photo by Deb Jacques


ST. CLAIR SHORES — Inspired by a grotto at the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit, a therapy garden is growing outside of the new home of Maggie’s Wigs 4 Kids of Michigan with help from local students and members of the Lions Club.

Maggie Varney, founder and CEO of Maggie’s Wigs 4 Kids of Michigan, said she had wanted to find a way to honor children who had participated in Wigs 4 Kids programs who had passed away — she calls them her angels — while giving current participants a space they could use, as well. She thought of incorporating the remembrance into a therapy garden when she visited the grotto at the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit. She wanted to create a similarly beautiful space outside the Wigs 4 Kids’ new home at 30130 Harper Ave.

The therapy garden space, which is being constructed by members of various Lions Clubs in the area, will include a bench for parents and a covered picnic table for children. The raised therapy gardens will be available for the children to grow vegetables and herbs, and the entire area will be surrounded by potted flowers and flowers that the children and their parents plant in the ground. St. Clair Shores Beautification Committee Chair Lilian Claycomb helped Varney plan the flowers that would bring color and beauty to the garden.

Jennifer George-Consiglio, director of arts at Maggie’s Wigs 4 Kids of Michigan, said they plan to connect the garden with nutrition and healthy eating through various activities, including the creation of a music video about nutrition.

Because the new Wigs 4 Kids Wellness Center includes a full kitchen staffed by a registered dietician, Varney said she hopes the children will be able to have a farm-to-table type of experience, learning how to grow the produce and how to plan nutritious meals before enjoying the food they have grown.

In addition, Varney said, since they already offer enchanted tea parties at the Wellness Center, she’s hoping to be able to offer the children a chance to have garden parties with their friends and family, as well.

“This is about nutrition, wellness and health, but it can be fun, too,” she said.

George-Consiglio had the idea to ask local art students to help beautify the garden.

Lakeview High School art teacher Sharada Sharp said she didn’t hesitate when George-Consiglio asked if her students could help. She had the students in her advanced painting class hand paint their own designs on terracotta pots in honor of their own mothers for Mother’s Day to help brighten the garden. Then, she arranged for the students to take a field trip to the center May 7, when they planted flowers in the pots.

She said she told them to, “think of happy, fun things. They took it and ran with it. They’re all so unique.”

Mikayla Squier, a Lakeview High School senior whose pot was covered in a colorful tie-dye explosion of color, said she was excited to help and spread joy and positive energy to the children at Wigs 4 Kids.

“I always paint rainbows,” she said. “I’m hoping to remind them that in the world they live in ... there’s always colors around them (and) good energy.”

The pot painted by Olivia Patty, a senior, is full of positive messages and expressions of hope. She said her younger cousin had cancer, so she had a good idea of what the children are experiencing.

“These kids do go through a lot,” she said. “They are very strong little humans.”

She hoped her artwork would add “a little positivity in their life.”

Noah Lewis, a senior, used abstract designs in his painting because he thought visitors to the garden could find their own meaning in his work.

When the raised therapy garden is complete, the pots the students painted and planted with flowers will be placed in and around the garden.

The garden is “a wonderful way to encourage wellness,” George-Consiglio said.

Varney said she was thrilled that George-Consiglio was able to connect Wigs 4 Kids with the Lakeview art students.

“My program has always been about kids helping kids,” she said. “They can give back to their community, and they can feel good about it.”