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Michael Bennett continues community engagement spree, involved in at-risk youth gardening initiative

The Bennett Foundation encourages nutrition and sustainable living by investing in cooperative farming sites at Seattle juvenile justice centers and schools

Wild Card Round - Detroit Lions v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

It’s a big day for Seattle Seahawks and nutrition news.

Thursday afternoon Michael Bennett tweeted an article from the King County Youth Justice system blog, highlighting his work with his wife Pele (through their charitable organization, The Bennett Foundation) to help establish a youth gardening initiative through the county juvenile detention center and Interagency Academy, a school outreach program for children expelled or otherwise unable to participate in the traditional school system.

According to the release published last week, Bennett donated $5,000 to build the garden facility at Opportunity Skyway, a learning center located near Sea-Tac Airport, and judging from this Instagram post Michael and Pele visited the location near the beginning of June to meet with students and take part in the planting. The story details the Bennetts’ visit to that site as well as another of the project’s sites in Columbia City, where Bennett plans to install murals celebrating nutrition, gardening and sustainable living.

These efforts continue Bennett’s streak of powerful community cooperation: Earlier this offseason the star defensive end pledged to donate through his foundation all of his endorsement money in 2017 to “rebuild minority communities”. Bennett is also deeply involved in his offseason home in Hawaii, where Bennett hosts a free football camp next month in Honolulu, and his hometown of Houston. Through his anti-obesity project O.C.E.A.N., Bennett has also hosted a health exposition on the Lower Brule Sioux reservation in South Dakota and earlier this week he promised to bankroll the education of 100 girls in Africa in the areas of “science, technology, engineering, mathematics, arts and design”. But this King County initiative shows how invested Bennett is also in the Seattle area.

The KCYJ report says the project garden will include edible crops and fruit trees to serve the juvenile detention center kitchens, not only teaching the students about horticulture, biology and nutrition but also providing them healthy farm-to-table foods to eat. Having written in the past about a similar community garden project in San Francisco, I can say earnestly these initiatives are among the most valuable and effective for engaging youth challenged by poverty, violence, crime, family trauma—or really any children in any environment. The act of gardening, beside being good for the world, connects time-intensive hands-on activities with kids’ senses of personal investment in their daily health an an integrated sense of community self-sufficiency.

Although Bennett is already rightly recognized for his good nature and care for children, his own family and the welfare of others, this enterprise reinforces his outstanding commitment to the values he so frequently speaks. Cheers to Michael and Pele Bennett for such a rad program!

More about The Bennett Foundation efforts here