`

Garden helps school children come to terms with their grief

The school has been helped by volunteers to create the green space for children.
The school has been helped by volunteers to create the green space for children.

A garden is giving schoolchildren a space to come to terms with their grief.

Acre Rigg Academy in Peterlee has created the area in its grounds as it looked at ways to help pupils come to terms with their emotions after experiencing a bereavement.

Plants, a birdbath and bird feeders have been put in to the garden space at Acre Rigg Academy.

Plants, a birdbath and bird feeders have been put in to the garden space at Acre Rigg Academy.

Now it has found such a place in the hearts of its children they have asked if they can still use it during their holidays, with the project to create the garden pulling together the community and fuelling creative activities.

The idea was given the full support of headteacher Julie Craggs.

Kirsten Scully, the school’s family welfare and safeguarding officers, said: “About six months ago myself and a colleague, Gillian Evans, our bereavement and pastoral manager, recognised there was more and more need to offer support around bereavement and we have had some bereavement meetings through Alice House Hospice and decided to set up some group support for the children.

“We had around 15 pupils and parents with the school to attend a Monday afternoon session, but from there we thought it would be nice if we could get something within the school.

Now we have got a lovely garden and it’s still a work in progress.

Kirsten Scully

“We had a bit of a garden area but it needed some work to it, so it went from there.

“We had some grandparents donate a bench and we have had so many businesses, staff and people from the community donating things.

“Now we have got a lovely garden and it’s still a work in progress.

“We have pagoda and some of the children have painted stones to decorate it and to make memorials of their own.

Stones have been decorated by the children to place in the garden.

Stones have been decorated by the children to place in the garden.

“We’ve seen some big changes in some of the pupils who have used it, their attendance has improved, they come in happier and laughing and it’s made a real difference to them,

“It helps the children as they deal with so many different feelings and they’ve also been able to watch things grow and see the birds come in.

“We’ve had children in year 6 who have left asking if they can come back and the children know there are still staff here during the school holidays, so they have asked if they can come back and spend some time in there.”

The archway installed in the garden at Acre Rigg Academy as part of its garden project.

The archway installed in the garden at Acre Rigg Academy as part of its garden project.