Ainslie Wood Primary School Peace Garden, the first Peace Garden in a School in London.
Community Gardening Day at the Peace Garden
At a time when Peace is such an important issue it is vital that we work together to create a more open, peaceful and cohesive society.
Over the past year the Earth Champions Foundation has been working on two Peace Garden Programmes. The first was with 60 year 5 pupils from Ainslie Wood Primary School in Waltham Forest, a joint project between the Earth Champions Foundation, Catalyst in Communities and the School. The programme ran with generous sponsorship from Awards for All, Crowdfunding and the design support of Grant Associates.
Ainslie Wood Primary School is situated in a challenging environment with issues ranging from social deprivation to high crime rates and radicalisation. Ainslie Wood is in the North of Waltham Forest, which has been named as a “National Hotspot” for targeting of the Prevent Agenda, following a number of high profile cases of potential terrorists growing up in the area.
The Peace Garden Programme fosters ‘Peace’ with particular attention being given to tolerance of others and their views as well as conflict resolution for the Year 5 pupils. The Project brings the children together in order to facilitate discussion and consistent interaction across ethnicities, faiths and cultures.
Over the last 6 months the children have taken part in a week long ‘Resolve’ Peace course, planted bulbs, attended a residential, visited Kew Gardens and had many school and community gardening sessions.
Led by Robin Lockhart from Catalyst in Communities the ‘Resolve’ course was very inspiring to take part in. The children discussed perceptions and values and learned how to resolve conflict with each other in day-to-day situations. The group came up with some brilliant ideas and really took on board the teaching.
The trip to Kew was a really special day for the group, only one of the children had visited before and the whole group were amazed to see such a huge garden with so many elements. They took photos and noted down their favourite plants and together the group discussed what they would like to see in their own garden.
The Earth Champions Foundation led the gardening sessions. The children learned about growing seeds, herbs, vegetables and flowers. We built a bug hotel together and they were fascinated by the lifecycles of insects and helping spiders, bees, worms and beetles to have a home.
Bug Hotel in progress!
Outside of the sessions many of the children made garden models at home, built bird-houses and wrote poems. One of the children wrote:
“Don’t be rude, have gratitude dude.
Say thanks, don’t play pranks.
Be humble, your friends don’t stumble.
Behave, do things right, never try to start a fight.
Disputes and arguments let us mend, treat each other as a friend.
See the world as a Pearl.
Let us all be peaceful”.
World Peace by Jordain.
Dean with his Peace Garden Model.
The children were inspired by the programme and “Peace’ made its way into lots of their learning.
There were a few challenges along the way, one of which was the fox and her cubs who live near the school garden that enjoyed digging up the newly planted flowers. One parent built us some new raised planters which seemed to solve the problem!
By the end of the programme the garden was transformed from an overgrown space full of brambles and weeds to a beautiful space for the children to enjoy, find peace in and watch their hard work grow!
The Peace Garden Before
And the Peace Garden After!