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Working outdoors is known to improve mental health and physical wellbeing by allowing time for reflection and relaxation. The Children’s Foundation Therapeutic Horticulture Project offers groups of young people with ASD or learning difficulties and complex needs the chance to undertake a level 1 City and Guilds qualification in practical horticulture. Increasing self-confidence and strengthening social skills, this project aims to lessen feelings of social exclusion, encouraging young people to feel positive about their futures.
Originally set up in partnership with The Royal Horticulture Society (RHS) in 2012, the ‘Our Garden’ project began in Excelsior School in Newcastle and following a significant donation from The John and Florence Adamson Trust in 2014, the project evolved to include the ‘Adamson Scholarship’ and now runs in three schools with SEN provision in the North East.
Each year this scholarship allows up to eight Year 10 or 11 students per school opportunities that they might not otherwise have access to. Led and assessed by our partners from Kirkley Hall Agricultural College, the pupils develop independent and team working skills whilst managing their very own outdoor environment. The project allows these students to create their garden area, including vegetable beds, ponds and in some cases allowing them to keep animals. They work towards a practical horticulture qualification led by an experienced tutor, and undertake assessments and offsite visits.
The Garden also offers an opportunity for the children in the wider school to be outdoors, experiencing nature which is recognised to have a positive impact on their behaviour, development and wellbeing. The project not only allows the young people to nurture plants, vegetables, and chickens but grows confidence and aspirations.
The ‘Our Garden’ project and the ‘Adamson Scholarship’ project now form the ‘Therapeutic Horticulture Project’ and delivers the following key activities
Our Gardens Are looking beautiful thanks to all the hard work the students put in!
Impact of the scholarship
We are seeing some fantastic results in terms of the students personal skills – interaction, independence and attention.
“It has created a bit of a buzz around horticulture in our school, as the scholarship is something that our younger students can aim for once they reach year 11, they understand that the skills they learn in the garden in their lower years can be used and developed into a qualification later in the school. We have a lot of students asking to work in our garden and help out with the variety of projects we have going on at the moment.”
Stella Ellis – Joint Manager of EPPIC
Heres what the children have to say about the gardens….
Watch this space…… The Children’s Foundation will be fundraising to expand the Therapeutic Horticulture Project into two new schools within the region in 2018/19. Details to follow.
For information about the scholarship, please contact Project Manager Samantha Curtis – by email or by telephone 0191 282 0894
Our Therapeutic Horticulture Project is fortunate to receive support from a number of funders including: