In 2016 Pam received a Jack Petchey Leader Award from the students and staff at Drumbeat School, in recognition of her work as a volunteer there. Drumbeat is an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) school and outreach service based in Lewisham, which provides special provision for children and young adults with autism and other related complex needs. Pam volunteers at Drumbeat’s Brockley site two days a week and helps the sixth form students with horticulture curriculum, growing vegetables, plants and flowers. She has also helped in getting allotment time for Drumbeat students at a local allotment and is planning new joint ventures between Drumbeat and the allotment committee.
Thanks to Pam’s Leader Award, Drumbeat school were also able to apply for a £750 Small Grant from the Jack Petchey Foundation. Pam and the students decided to use this money to buy gardening equipment, a shed, plants, raised beds, soil, and shed guttering. This equipment has helped the garden project flourish even more.
The project has a lot of benefits; the students gain employability skills, it helps them to improve their independence and life skills, and of course is a lot of fun! For some students, the experience could lead to a college placement on a horticultural course. The therapeutic benefits of gardening are also widely regarded, which can have a really positive impact on those with ASD.
Over the course of 2016, the students have grown seeds, learnt how to “pot on” and have planted various vegetables at the allotment that Pam secured for Drumbeat. So far the students have planted potatoes, strawberries, peas, beans, squashes and courgettes, and are tending existing raspberries, rhubarb and a vine. Drumbeat the produce to members of staff and the proceeds are used to support the gardening project, with hopes that this could also develop into a mini-enterprise project. Some of the produce is also used in the life skills lessons, in which the students make their own lunch and eat together as a class. So far the students have enjoyed rhubarb crumble, summer fruit meringue with raspberry coulis and fresh new potatoes!
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