Posted: Thursday 22nd December 2016 by Education and Community Engagement Team
Our Painting The Town Green Project paid a visit to Blossoms Nursery and showed the positive impact that wildlife-friendly play areas can have for children.
Kent Wildlife Trust’s Painting The Town Green project is in its third year as a Big Lottery funded initiative to connect communities to wildlife.
Wayfield is a residential area on the outskirts of Chatham. Despite being surrounded by pockets of green space, and being a short hop from the Darland Banks and Capstone Country Park, many residents have become disconnected from local wildlife.
In November, the project got to work with Blossoms Day Nursery, based at Wayfield Primary School, working with parents of the two year-olds who attend the nursery, to add more wildlife-friendly areas to the outdoor play space.
The grounds are now home to colourful planters hung on the low fences, filled with bulbs which will flower in the Spring, and topped with miniature firs and winter pansies; a beehive-shaped compost bin to enable families to bring veg scrapings from home to fill it every day, and for the children to compost their fruit snack peel; a replenished mud kitchen, filled with lovely, tactile fresh compost; a story circle made from recycled logs, some brand new bug hotels, and a refurbished bug hotel, brimming with impressively sized spiders.
All of these things provide rich wildlife habitats, especially for minibeasts – a favourite of this age group. We believe that you’re never too young to start learning about wildlife, which is why every family with a child at Blossoms has been given laminated spotter guides to the critters they will find in the grounds, and in the wider local area.
This project doesn’t stop once we’ve finished the practical work in the grounds. A large element of this project is about improving greenspaces, but it goes deeper than that. It’s about connecting communities with each other, as well as to wildlife.
Where people don’t make eye contact on the school run, they learn to come together over a pile of earth and some plug plants. They build relationships and establish friendships and support networks. Three weeks in, they meet, greet, smile at each other and laugh, joke and work together. Those relationships have now started to bloom, and like the plants in the hanging troughs, will continue to be nurtured and grow.
It’s about affecting welfare change. It’s about a boy with sensory issues who can’t tolerate dirt learning to plunge his hands into compost with real delight. It’s about that change opening up the wider world to him. It’s about him looking up and around with wonder at the wildlife around him, his parents right behind him doing likewise. It’s about parents too shy to get out too often marking the date on their calendar, and turning up week after week to connect: with people, and with nature.
It’s about watching a parent watching their child with fear, respect and admiration as they shove a magnifying pot up to their face to share a Tegenaria spider they caught, gently, with their bare hands. It’s about an adult shrieking at a woodlouse, then ten minutes later, borrowing their child’s pot to show them something new, fear-free. It’s about those laminated sheets getting used week in, week out now, with a twinkle in the eye. It’s about realising everything’s connected by the earth under our feet and everything within it, including us to each other, wherever we are from.
It’s some powerful mojo, green painting.
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