The project, part of the National Citizen Service (NCS), was funded by the young people themselves, who organised a cake sale to raise more than £200. They used the money to buy materials, including wood, paint, brushes and tools.
NCS is the government’s flagship youth programme, which aims to help young people develop new skills, meet new people and contribute to a community project.
“We wanted to create something for others in our town, and so we asked the teachers at Carnarvon Primary School in Bingham what they thought would work best,” said Holly Clark, 16, who lives near the school. “We then planned everything on paper and, after much hard work and some very wet weather, we’re all really pleased with the result!”
The sensory garden includes a range of experiences for the school’s pupils to enjoy, including miniature flower beds in painted tyres, a light rack made from unwanted CDs, multi-textured pathways, sand pits and hoops to climb through.
“Making this garden marks the end of a really exciting month together,” said Rory Quinn, 15, from Newark. “We spent several days getting to know each other and learning about teamworking at an outdoor centre in North Wales and then moved to Nottingham University where we took part in several work-related sessions, developing everyday skills we’ll need later in life. Then, we spent time at Toot Hill College thinking about our community project, how we were going to raise enough money, and deciding how we could make our plans turn into this fabulous adventure garden!”
Team mentor Courtney Smith, along with colleague and team leader Jack Clarke, led the young people and witnessed how the group came together to work as a team. “Despite the many challenges of poor weather conditions, these young people were determined to get the most from their NCS experience. It’s been a real joy to work with them and help them achieve what they set out to do. They’ve each made new friends and developed personally, as well as learning a range of new skills which will be of real benefit to them as they consider their futures either in further education or work.”
Holly Clark summed up the month. “Taking part in NCS meant giving up four weeks of my holiday, but it’s been worth every minute. I would urge other young people to give it a go, too, because if you don’t you’re missing out!”
NCS offers a unique opportunity for fun, adventure and discovery and is open to all 16- to 17-year-olds for no more than £50. For more information visit www.ncsingeus.co.uk