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“Please Help us Build a School Garden for Our Community’s Mental Health & Wellbeing”
Leeds East Academy Students Appeal for Support to Build Tranquil Sensory Garden

Students from Leeds East Academy and Leeds Beckett University are reaching out to the wider community to help them build a new environmental design project which could improve the mental health of people in the local area.

The dedicated Landscape Architecture students from Leeds Beckett University have put in hours of free work to design a ‘Sensory Garden’ for use by students of Leeds East Academy and members of the wider community.

A wide range of research and reports indicate that the mental health of people in the UK has seriously declined since the pandemic, particularly for young people. Young Minds reports that around two out of three young people say the pandemic will have a long-term effect on their mental health, while Childline has reported that 45% of counselling sessions are related to emotional wellbeing, including self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

2 out 3 young people say the pandemic will have a long-term effect on their mental health

The mental health charity Mind reports that spending time in nature and outside in natural light can help with mental health problems like anxiety and depression. As the academy is in an area with limited green spaces, this means that the Sensory Garden will be an essential resource for both the students and members of the community to help everyone to find healthier techniques to manage their mental health.

The Sensory Garden will provide a space for young people to participate in a range of therapeutic activities and sessions to support them with managing stress, anxieties and mental health issues. It will also be open to local primary schools and members of the community when it is safe and appropriate to do so.

“Providing our community of young people with a tranquil space where they can reflect is more important than ever,” says Lisa Clark, Vice Principal - Behaviour, Attitudes, Personal Development & Student Experience at Leeds East Academy.

 

“Even without the current pandemic, young people can sometimes find balancing school and homelife overwhelming. When you are 11-16 years old, you are still developing and learning how to deal with that flight or fight response when under pressure.

“This means that a calming place will help them reflect and reintroduce a rational mindset, which will help them maintain the resilience they need to keep going and succeed.”

"A calming place will help them reflect and reintroduce a rational mindset, which will help them maintain the resilience they need to keep going and succeed.”

The project will also be extremely beneficial to students who do not have access to a garden at home and students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), which evidence suggests Sensory Gardens can support their development.

The academy is grateful to the university students who have stepped in to help make this dream become a reality. However, it has become a challenge to secure funding for this project, which is why the students from the academy and the university are now appealing to the wider community for financial support.

With the designs created by a dedicated team of six Landscape Architecture students, the academy and the university students are now asking if any individuals and businesses can help support the development of the garden, especially as the project is vital in maintaining the school’s culture that nurtures respect, resilience, and positivity.

Any amount of money - or even a donation of materials/plants - will make a genuine difference to young people and the community. If anyone is able to contribute, they can at http://www.leedseastacademy.org.uk/Mental-Health-Sensory-Garden-Fundraiser

The Sensory Garden, which is hoped to be developed across a 2500m2 space, will be extremely beneficial in helping students handle stress and pressure by providing a calming space where they can reflect, unwind and relax outdoors. The project will have three areas: along with a sensory relaxation area there will also be space for students to be active and an area ideal for extra-curricular learning including an Amphitheatre and an edible garden.

One Year 8 student said on the idea of having a ‘Sensory Garden’: "School can be a stressful place and having a nice relaxing space to go to would be great."

Another student in Year 11 commented: "It would be great to have a place where you can escape from reality at times."

For those who believe in the power of innovative ideas to transform communities then please donate to the fundraiser or contact marketing@whiteroseacademies.org if you would like to take a more active role in the project.

The Sensory Garden will be an essential resource for both the students and members of the community to help everyone to find healthier techniques to manage their mental health.