Garden of Remembrance to honor individuals who died while at Fort Wayne State Developmental Center

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — AWS Foundation and Purdue University Fort Wayne is rededicating the Garden of Remembrance, located in the northeast corner of Purdue Fort Wayne, during a public ceremony on Oct. 27.

The Garden of Remembrance honors children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities who died while living at the Fort Wayne State Developmental Center. It features a large stone, dated 1901 to 1967, which recognizes individuals dying at the Fort Wayne State Developmental Center whose records of their final resting place do not exist.

The rededication event will begin at 10:30 a.m. and feature historical information, a blessing and self-guided exploration of the garden.

“We are honored to rededicate this wonderful garden to the memory of the many children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities who died while living nearby at the State Developmental Center,” said Patti Hays, AWS Foundation CEO. “By preserving this historical garden and enhancing this peaceful, living space, it can ensure that these individuals will never be forgotten.”

AWS Foundation and the university contributed to enhancing the garden to include an accessible paver pathway that connects plantings, visual landmarks and benches that support remembrance and opportunities for reflection and renewal.

“Civilization has a dark history of oppression and institutionalization of people with disabilities,” said Ryan McCombs, director of the Disability Access Center at Purdue Fort Wayne. “It is our sincere hope that the Garden of Remembrance serves as a reminder that all people deserve to be included and are welcome in our community. Our university strives to cultivate environments that foster inclusivity and access for all individuals; this peaceful space can help us plant the roots to empower and recognize disability as another aspect of diversity.”

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