Makes a lot of Sense: Young People Volunteering

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Article date
9 September 2014
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SSH_Sensory, as part of the National Citizenship Service(NCS) programme, have built a sensory garden at Loddon Primary School, providing a haven for the children at the school.

NCS Group 2 NCS in action

The National Citizenship Service is a programme designed for young people aged 16-17 all around the UK. It includes a fun trip away from home for a few days and  when they come back, they get to work on a social action project of their choice.

Among thousands of teenagers that took part in NCS this summer, was a group of 16 year olds from Reading. They are known as SSH_ Sensory and they have worked extremely hard this summer to create something extraordinary.

After looking at wide range of areas where they could work to improve their local community, they all decided they wanted to do something for children at primary schools, especially ones with additional educational needs and sensory impairments. Their aim is to give children a better environment and help them develop a healthy and fresh mind. After carrying out research in the local area, they approached Loddon Primary School who agreed to the team building a sensory garden in their grounds.

The Team raised an amazing amount of money, over £1,000, of just a few weeks to fund the project. They held a bake sale, packed bags at Sainsbury’s, held a tombola and did such a good job at the local “Dragon’s Den” that they were given the full £150. They also managed to get donations from local garden centres for the garden, giving them extra cash to spend on essentials such as plants, soil and bark. While some people were shopping, the rest of the team started the groundwork for the garden. The team put a lot of thought into their project and spent time researching what to include in the garden so that the children get the most out of it.

NCS Planting NCS Best foot forward

Enthusiasm from everyone and good organisation skills were the key and they had it all. A little area of plain grassland is now a sensory garden all designed and created by these teenagers. The SSH Sensory garden is a place for children at Loddon Primary School to go to cool off, relieve their stress and anger and then go back into class with a fresh mind. The garden has a section for musical instruments for children to have fun, expand their creativity, encouraging the children to work together to create a song or melody improving their teamwork skills.

NCS Garden

Focusing on senses, the team selected a range of plants providing noises, smells and textures. They have also placed a few gaze balls within the garden to help children see different angles and focus on utilising all their senses. There are also a few strawberry plants so the children can have a sweet, healthy treat while they are in the garden.

As well as providing the children of Loddon Primary School with a new garden, NCS has helped these teenagers learn to work together in a group, develop individual skills such as communication, leadership and most importantly, these teenagers have become aware of the problems in their local community. Now they can confidently say that NCS has made them more passionate about volunteering and doing something positive to tackle problems in their local community.

This project doesn’t end here; in a couple of years they see themselves as still working on the same project but at various different schools and parks. They are also planning to spread awareness about the benefits of these types of gardens for the development of children.