Leeds primary school creates wellness garden to help mental health of staff and pupils

Chapel Allerton Primary School has created a new garden space for pupils and staff to unwind and reflect on their own mental health.

By Abi Whistance
Thursday, 9th June 2022, 4:30 pm

The wellness garden, which has been created using funding from the Parent and Staff Association, CA Spaces and Friends of Gledhow Valley Woods, includes a courtyard, benches and plenty of sensory plants, herbs and flowers to help the children engage with nature.

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Both teachers and children are encouraged to enjoy the garden, with activities built around the space including gardening workshops and outdoor learning.

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Chapel Allerton Primary School has created a new garden space for pupils and staff to unwind. Photo by Tony Gent Visual Studio.

Sarah Priestley Turner, member of the Parent and Staff Association and chair of CA Spaces, said: "After all the ups and downs with Covid it felt like it would be great to create a really lovely garden space that was very artistic and sensory for children and staff.

"It could be used for lots of different things, from staff using it at the end of the day to have somewhere beautiful to go and unwind, to a space where small groups of children can have a relaxing time or a session of outdoor learning."

After months of hard work by parents, staff and members of the Chapel Allerton community, the garden was finally unveiled last month.

Local councillors Jane Dowson, Eileen Taylor and Mohammed Rafique all visited the garden on its opening day to express their awe at the new green area.

The garden includes a courtyard, benches and plenty of sensory plants, herbs and flowers to help the children engage with nature. Photo by Tony Gent Visual Studio.

"It was a really nice way to open up the space and get everyone in the school excited and involved," Sarah went on to say.

"I think everyone's been having a peek and nosy about what's happening but it was really nice to be able to do that launch and talk to everyone about why [the garden] has been created.

"It's basically a big thank you in a way to most of the staff and children for being so amazing through what has been a tough few years."

Outdoor learning is one of the Chapel Allerton Primary School's key focuses, with a biodome for growing fruit and vegetables and improved outdoor play spaces introduced earlier this year.

The wellness garden has been designed to be low maintenance for staff, with the school's own 'green team' of students taking on various responsibilities. Photo by Tony Gent Visual Studio.

There is also an orienteering course and several adventure experiences throughout the curriculum to encourage outdoor activities.

The wellness garden has been designed to be low maintenance for staff, with the school's own 'green team' of students taking on various responsibilities to keep the space thriving for years to come.

"It's been one of those [projects] where a team of really passionate do-ers have cracked on with it," Sarah said.

The project is completely in line with what [CA Spaces] is about: taking underused and unloved spaces and enabling people to get a lot of positivity from them and bring smiles to people's faces."