Thanks to a £750 Small Grant from the Jack Petchey Foundation, the East Side Young Leaders Academy was able to transform their small yard into an oasis of nature and fun for their members.
Eastside works as an alternative education provider and supplementary school for young people from Afro-Caribbean backgrounds, with an explicit focus on developing leadership potential. The garden now provides the young people with a space of their own to relax, socialise, play, and enjoy nature. Eastside have called it a “haven in the middle of an area of disadvantage and crime.”
The young members were involved in the development and design of the garden, which provided opportunities for cooperation and teamwork amongst disengaged, at risk young people. Now that it is complete, it provides a broader range of activities available to them such as gardening, creative design as well as outdoor sports and games. The garden is incorporated into Eastside’s weekday alternative education provision programme and their after school and weekend leadership programme.
The garden will be a long term resource which can be added to in the future. Eastside already have plans to gradually increase the number of outdoor games available and for the young people to create more garden decorations through recycling and upcycling projects. The Academy also hopes to develop their vegetable patch for cooking activities.
The young people are extremely happy with the new outdoor space and are excited for the activities that it will bring in the future. One young person said “Making the windmills and butterflies was fun. They look so pretty. Every time I walk past I think “I helped to make it look like that!” Some are most happy with the vegetable patch, with one member commenting “the chili peppers we are growing have inspired me to cook.” Others enjoy simply having a calm space to relax and reflect in, either alone or with friends.
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