This week sees the start of ‘School Spruce’, a community-based project which aims to visually and physically improve St Helena’s three primary schools.

Schools are essential hubs of all communities, and during participation work with young people in April of this year, it was recognised that the Island’s primary schools were in need of improved play facilities. Recognising that play is important for the development of the child, a proposal was put forward to improve the three primary schools on St Helena.

This community project involves St Helena Government (SHG), the Private Sector, the St Helena National Trust, Enterprise St Helena, Civil Society, parents, teachers and the children themselves – and will provide a play area for each school, using donated recycled materials. Other improvements have also been proposed, including the building of seating areas and general revamp of the schools – each school has a different set of ideas for improvements ranging from a new lick of paint to renovations that will enhance the learning experience of the pupils.

Each school has £2500 for improvements – £3000 was donated by SHG which was match funded by £3000 raised by the schools themselves, and £1500 was donated from the Governor’s Delegated Fund.
All the work is being done voluntarily.

The schools were approached to find out what kind of playground they wanted from the materials and money available – and then the children were able to design their own playground based on their interests and needs.

Coordinating the project, Rachel Armstrong, from the Corporate Policy and Planning Unit said:

“Play is an essential part of development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children. Through this community-based project, we hope that providing new playgrounds in each of the three primary schools will benefit the children significantly.

“The children have been heavily involved in the design of their playground, and each school will have a unique play area suited to their individual needs.”

In addition to new play areas, each school will also have their own endemic garden, featuring an endemic plant from their school’s area of the Island. The idea behind this is to educate the children on the importance of the endemics on St Helena, and allow them to plant and maintain the endemics themselves
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The School Spruce project kicks off this week with the levelling of the playing field at St Paul’s Primary School in readiness for playground works to begin.

Frequent progress updates on the individual projects will follow in due course.

SHG
19 August 2013

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