On May 1, 2018, UNC Charlotte was saddened by the news that one of its students, Polly Rogers, 20, had died after falling off of a party bus. Almost a year after the incident, funding efforts have begun to create the “The Polly Rogers Memorial Sensory Garden. Her father and former gift officer in the Cato College of Education (COED), Tim Rogers, with support from COED is looking to honor Polly with this garden. The garden will act as a therapeutic space for children with disabilities to interact with the garden for sensory stimulation.


The main focus of the garden is to give students with disabilities the experience to interact with nature. Tim Rogers said, “it’s all about touch… it’s about an interaction with nature, it’s all about joy.” Donations to the garden will provide a plethora of sensory elements for visitors to experience. Features such as, flowers, benches, and several wind chimes will give students with disabilities an outlet to experience nature.


Rogers’ goal of this project is not only to honor the memory of his daughter, but to show the community what his daughter stood for. Rogers said that the project “says a lot about Polly’s character and essence, her reach,” Polly, studying special education in COED, was active in the Greater Charlotte community through the YMCA. Rogers added that “She wasn’t only interested in having fun as a counselor, She was tuned in to the needs of the child.” The garden focuses on representing the legacy of Polly through her own values.


The project has been supported by COED to the fullest extent. The idea was originally created by senior lecturer in special education and child development, Pamela Mcintyre, with support from associate professor of special education, Barbara Howard, and the college’s Dean, Ellen Mcintyre.


Lisa Gaskin, pre-education advisor in the Cato College of Education, described Polly as “energetic, bright and engaging. She was excited about the special education program and particularly enjoyed time spent in the classroom with students.” The garden’s focus is to “serve as a living memorial to the joy she brought to life and her goal of working with students with special needs.”


The push for this project began on the campus of UNC Wilmington. Tim Rogers’, also the assistant vice chancellor for major gifts, idea to honor Polly began with his colleagues at UNC Wilmington sending money to the Cato College of Education to show their love and support for the Rogers family.


The project still needs donations to put it into motion. COED has created a crowdfunding campaign to gain support and funding by the UNC Charlotte and Greater Charlotte community.

Donate here: https://crowdfund.uncc.edu/project/13650

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