Students at Worksop College have put community at the forefront by creating a therapy garden in Manton.
Last September the Bassetlaw volunteering commission approached us, asking for help developing land in Manton into a new sensory garden for the local community.
Lockdown had stopped all community service efforts so Mr Cawley, Wellbeing Officer at Worksop College, jumped at the opportunity, feeling strongly that young people should always have a pathway to be serving their community.
A new role for the school, Mr Cawley will work closely with students, helping those of concern by working with pastoral teams and designated safeguarding leads to support individual students. He will be based primarily at the school’s new Well-being Centre, a space designed to combine a calming environment with skilled professional wellbeing staff and mental health practitioners to support other staff and students in maintaining good mental, emotional, social and physical health.
“I believe that a deep experience of well-being is not possible without a sense of both belonging to a community and a feeling that an individual is adding value to that community. Therefore, I wanted to help students to spend their Saturday morning's doing physical labour – off their phones, chatting, sharing stories, and learning new practical, real would skills, all while making a genuine positive impact. I wanted them to see how gratifying it is to see through a project and to feel the warm glow and healthy self-esteem and pride which comes from doing something for others.”
The project was well-supported with just under 30 pupils, plus staff, parents and local businesses all pitching in to help.
“We designed the garden to be full of colours, smells, sounds and natural materials and textures,” Cawley told us. “There is plenty of research that supports the findings that our senses are a gateway to the present moment and to a sense of tranquillity. We hope that this space will facilitate those who encounter it to realise what beauty there is in each moment, despite the troubles they may be facing at that time.”
Students began by moving a whopping 25 tonnes of soil to create a large space – planning for high raised beds to accommodate less mobile visitors to enjoy the space.
“Throughout the process, students learnt to lay bricks, level the ground, plant trees and flowers, design spaces, and to work as a team,” says Cawley. “This is not to mention the hours of digging and brick cleaning which happened at the start.”
“It has always been important to me to make a positive difference in the world, so when I first heard about this project, I immediately signed up," says Ana, Year 12. “As a psychology student, I was aware of how vital sensory experiences are for dementia patients. The thought of making someone's life better with my help brought me happiness and motivation to finish this project. As well as this, it taught me gardening skills and volunteering experience.”
After a full academic year of hard work, the Manton Garden Is now open, offering a beautiful garden to residents and community groups across the area.