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Garden promotes mental resilience for students at Richard Lander

Being outside in nature has been proven to reduce anxiety and stress, which is why Richard Lander School in Truro has created a new garden space to help young people with their mental resilience. The Growth Garden has been created in partnership with students and staff, thanks to a grant from Headstart Kernow.

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The outside space is designed as a sanctuary which enables students to refresh and re-engage, therefore ensuring they are ready to learn on return to lessons’.  Aptly named the Growth Garden, the project, so far, has helped students to become more confident, gain new skills and build new friendship groups.

Sue Mitchell from Richard Lander School said: “We had a garden that had gone by the way side because there are so many things happening at school, but the students wanted to have a space to relax, restore, reflect and be ready to learn in their lessons. 

“Once we started on this, we quickly realised there were additional skills that the students could learn and these volunteers could leave a legacy for the school. I think being out in nature it is really important, as a human being it’s important to reconnect and enjoy the fresh air and the green.  Get away from those screens and have some time out side.”

The students have called the garden the Growth Garden, because it’s not justa bout nature, but also about personal growth.  

Tegen-Alysha is a student at Richard Lander and one of the team helping to restore the garden, said: “I hope people who come here (the garden) don’t feel lonely, because they will find someone to talk to.  You may not realise it but you are helping so many other people.

“I know what it feels like to be lonely and it’s not nice; I don’t want other people to feel like that.  So I’m working here because I want this to be a place where people can go and know that someone will listen.”

Numerous studies have shown the benefits of getting outside and taking part in physical activities, like gardening, when it comes to mental health.  With one study claiming a dramatic reduction in stress hormones after spending time outside and surrounded by nature.

Coordinator for Headstart Kernow, Kate Pordage, concluded: “Young people these days are under so much pressure, from all different kinds of angles and this kind of facility is great for developing mental resilience.  The students have done some great work in creating this space, which will benefit everyone at the school.”