The pandemic has been hard on every demographic of society, with those at either end of the age spectrum possibly suffering the most during lockdown and enforced periods of isolation.
During the lengthy periods of time away from friends and school, both the mental health and education of our young people has been a cause for concern. Conditions were particularly difficult for those without access to an outside space. And with increasing swathes of the country now entering tier 2 and tier 3 restrictions, the option for young people to get outside, even in the cooler weather, remains an important consideration in mental health and wellbeing.
At Amberol, we have always been keen supporters of any initiative that encourages children and young people to discover the thrill of growing flowers and vegetables, such as the Royal Horticultural Society’s Campaign for School Gardening. The campaign runs a range of competitions (some of which have been postponed during 2020) and offers a wide variety of advice and support as well as suggestions for plant-related activities all year round – from gardening to artwork.
Now, with schools well into the swing of the long autumn term, the RHS is continuing to raise awareness around the importance of spending time outside and how it can have a beneficial impact on the wellbeing of our young people. In a recent newsletter, the RHS featured a series of suggestions for how schools can use their outdoor spaces to support pupils.
Suggestions included setting up a gardening club or raising awareness around an existing club in the form of a recruitment drive or by expanding the number of sessions. The RHS also offers support in the form of a range of interesting resources which demonstrate how a club can be set up and run relatively simply and with very little money.
Dr Lauriane Suyin Chalmin-Pui, RHS Wellbeing Fellow and author of a recent report investigating the link between gardening and mental health, explains how growing plants can help young people, especially during the pandemic. She comments: “Cultivating plants provides children and young people a sanctuary from virus-related anxieties, and a place to develop feelings of fulfilment and pride in themselves. Gardening fosters creativity and curiosity, as even the smallest wonders of nature can be exciting and fascinating. Moreover, gardening can encourage a sense of belonging in a world from which they may have felt isolated from in the past six months.”
Other suggestions include chat and do tables where students can carry out activities such as construction or artwork at the same time as chatting with their peers. The tables can be set up as break time activities or occasional time out places for children who may be struggling with the confines of the classroom.
Mindfulness is gaining increasing recognition as a strategy for supporting mental health. And where better to practise mindfulness than outside? In a similar vein, it is suggested that some lessons may even be able to be conducted outside where health and safety (and the weather) permits. Of course, not every lesson can be adapted and taken outdoors, but it’s worth giving some thought to those that can.
With social distancing and other Covid-related restrictions here to stay for the time being, it seems that we are all going to have to get used to spending more time outside – which may prove to be one of the few unforeseen benefits of the pandemic.
Amberol’s self-watering planters make growing fruit, vegetables and flowers easier, and the self-watering feature makes them particularly suitable for school gardens where premises staff may have to do the watering during school holidays. They are also flexible, with different sizes, styles and colours available to suit a variety of spaces. They can even be customised with the school logo.
For information about our range of self-watering planters and how they could work in your school garden, call 01773 830 930 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.