We want to create a place where individuals and classes go to reflect, be closer to nature, and enjoy the outdoors. The space will be multifaceted: a place children can explore when they need a quiet retreat; a space teachers can take their class for outdoor learning; and a place where clubs can learn about wildlife and gardening. A local garden designer generously donated her time and experience to create a design which meets all of these needs. Use of a living willow classroom with an archway entrance create a green enclosure to define the space. At the centre of the circle will be kinetic wind sculpture that provides a focal point and a sense of fun. Around the base of the sculpture is a circular plant area, filled with non-toxic plants with an emphasis on shades of green that is visually appealing and relaxing and creates a boundary around the sculpture. A circular pathway will surround the planted area with seating, made of natural materials, at the outside edge of the path.
What we'll deliver:
- A living willow classroom; 6 metres in diameter to define the space
- A kinetic wind sculpture which will be focal point and engaging for the children
- Plants for the centre of the living classroom
- Natural seating for the children and teachers to enjoy the space
- A natural pathway through the living classroom
Why it's a great idea:
Supporting the mental health, wellbeing and resilience of the children and staff at Downs View is critical to us as an organization. There is no question that the school closures over the last two academic years, lockdown, home learning and the ongoing stress of COVID has impacted the wellbeing of our students, staff and families. By creating a place where pupils and staff can quietly reflect in a natural environment, we hope to lessen the long-term mental health impacts of the pandemic. Spending time in a natural environment will give students the time and space to reflect, and focusing on mindfulness will help students develop better awareness of their body, thoughts and emotions. This will, in turn, help students deal with stress and improve impulse control.
Steps to get it done:
- Buying and installing the willow classroom
- installing the seating
- buying and installing the wind sculpture
- installing the foot path
- buying and planting the plants for the centre planting area
The school is opening links to local nursery schools in the area, offering up the use of our grounds. Specifically, we have already engaged with one nursery school that will be using our grounds twice a week - the mindfulness garden would be included in the space open for their use.
Additionally, we have links with local youth development groups, such as the Rainbows, for who the space would be open for them to make use of and we'll be able to expand the groups we work with once the garden is in place as an asset to be enjoyed.