Northampton Academy would like to thank everyone who has contributed to our Sensory Garden project and those who took part in our 'Working Bee' on Saturday, 21st May.
English teacher Lisa Ullmann, who has led the project, gives some background on how it all started:
"In September 2022, during a Teacher Training Day, preparing to start a new academic year, I heard our Director of Character and Director of Business talking about creating a garden, so I asked if I could be involved."
"A rough design idea was drawn up, and I offered to take them to a local garden (Quinton Rectory Garden) to show them what we might aim for on a smaller scale. After the visit, we agreed that we needed a professional garden designer as we needed to get it right. Unfortunately, this worked out to be too expensive so the next thing I knew, I had agreed to design the garden myself."
"I have always believed that a walk through a beautiful garden is likely to help most people feel more relaxed, and the smells, sounds and colours of the planting will help to influence this. There is growing evidence that the benefits of sensory gardens can be considerable to mental and physical health and wellbeing. The NHS has, since January 2019, officially included social prescribing in its Long Term Plan. Sitting in a garden is crucial for some people as they engage mostly at a sensory level when cognition is compromised. For others, the emotional response to gardens makes a difference to health and wellbeing, helping us feel calmer and happier. This is what I set out to achieve with our school garden. I worked on the design in my spare time in the evenings and at weekends."
"I knew that I wanted it to be a community project, so I reached out to Workbridge, established 41 years ago in Northampton. Workbridge offers a vocational pathway for people with mental illness, autism, learning disabilities or brain injuries and provides people with opportunities to gain skills and build confidence. I visited the Lead at Workbridge, Helen Bass, several times as I wanted to support this wonderful charity by purchasing all our plants through them. I also reached out to Verity Williams from Travis Perkins, who not only agreed to donate 5 tonnes of chip bark but turned up on the day of our first ever community Working Bee with two colleagues who worked tirelessly to put plants in the ground for us."
"On the day of the Working Bee, staff, parents and students from all key stages turned up and worked diligently to create our sensory garden. We even had members of the wider community come along to help those whose children do not attend our school but had heard we needed a hand to get some 800 plants in the ground. It was a real team effort to complete this project, and it was fantastic to see so many people join together to make this possible. All there is left to do now is for staff and students to enjoy the space",
Please see the photo gallery below.