Local children given the gift of growing

15 May 2016

Children from Ashgate Specialist Support Primary School in Wythenshawe will benefit from a new growing area with wheelchair friendly raised beds thanks to help from City of Trees and volunteers from the University of Manchester.

A piece of land next to the school’s playground was transformed from an unused, overgrown wasteland into a new growing area for the school with four raised beds.

The school, based on Crossacres Road in Wythenshawe, is home to 99 pupils aged 3 – 11 years and specialises in supporting children with Profound Multiple Learning Difficulties (PMLD), Sever Learning Difficulties (SLD) and Autism.

City of Trees, alongside volunteers from the University of Manchester’s tree musketeers group, worked hard to clear the area of litter, brambles and weeds before implementing a wheelchair accessible path leading from the playground to the newly transformed growing area, with parents also bringing children along to help on the day.

Four raised beds were also constructed; two of which are specially adapted to allow children in wheelchairs to take part in the activities.

Kevin Wigley from City of Trees comments; “The specially-designed raised beds are perfect for those children who use wheelchairs, with the carefully considered height and added shelf allowing them to pot, plant and prune until their heart’s content! It’s so important that all the children can benefit from outdoor activities and no barriers are in place for those wanting to get involved”.

Debbie O’Brien from the school adds; “Many children with additional needs have issues around food and very limited diets, so growing produce can encourage children to try new tastes, textures and develop tolerances; as well as helping them to increase their knowledge and understanding of where food comes from. In addition the development of life skills, such as cooking, is essential for our children to achieve independence as adults.

She adds; “We will be growing, carrots, beetroot, salad leaves and greens and look forward to sampling the vegetables that are grown.”

Volunteers from the University of Manchester’s Tree musketeers programme also came down to help create the new growing area.

Set up early 2016, the student-led volunteer force has swelled in members from just ten to over 50, who tackle environmental and community projects across the region.

Emma Gent, Student Co-ordinator for the group comments – “It was so rewarding helping to transform the neglected green space into something that can be a centre for enjoyment and education. We really hope that pupils will reap the benefits of the project in years to come.”