Please support The Garden Classroom, a small charity working to connect urban children, families and community to nature.
For over 10 years the charity has grown, delivering over 2,500 sessions of outdoor learning activity to over 75,000 disadvantaged urban children and their families. Over the last few weeks we’ve lost all of our traded income during our peak period of educational delivery. This has major implications and impacts on our ability to keep the charity alive and to keep the unique team we’ve grown, trained and nurtured for over a decade.
Right now during lockdown there is a greater understanding of the importance of connecting to nature. Our charity works hard to ensure that the most disadvantaged in our society have access to the health and wellbeing benefits of urban green spaces.
Can you donate and help us survive the impact of COVID-19? With your help we will be ready to support our community when they need us most.
About The Charity
The Garden Classroom (TGC) grew out of the needs of its local community. Islington has the least open access green space per resident of any borough in the country except the City of London. This, plus fear of crime, social and economic pressures meant that families were not using the parks and a generation of children were growing up without gaining the physical, educational, social and health benefits of connecting with the natural world. TGC started small, working with one Islington primary school in 2008. Now it regularly works with some forty primary schools in several London boroughs on a wide variety of programmes and has reached over 75,000 beneficiaries.
About Our Work with Children
TGC mainly works alongside primary schools so that all children have an equal opportunity to get into nature. The main education programme offers half-day curriculum-linked education sessions taught in parks and gardens close to schools. This means that no time is wasted on travel and it increases the awareness of school staff and pupils of the opportunities for teaching outdoors on their doorsteps. Some of the education programmes, such as The Wonderful World of Bees, have been so popular that they regularly have waiting lists. TGC also offers a teacher training CPD programme which is customised to meet the outdoor learning aspirations of individual schools.
Over the past 11 years TGC has continued to respond to the needs of schools. When teachers reported that their pupils were arriving at school stressed and unhappy TGC developed an urban version of the Forest School programme which is proven to have very positive benefits to children’s mental health. Teachers are finding that weekly half-day sessions discovering nature in a local park, led by a qualified TGC practitioner, are changing the attitude and behaviour of some of the neediest children. An invitation from a farming family in Kent to use some of their land to give London children a day in the countryside has grown from extended day visits to a five-week camping programme. This is a magical experience for disadvantaged urban children and one they describe as “so beautiful, everything you ever dreamed of”.
Our Community Work
TGC reaches out to the wider community with programmes such as Green Walks, Little Explorers, a regular nature discovery drop-in for parent/carers and toddlers, holiday clubs and free community events in parks and gardens. Recently TGC joined Islington and Camden Health Authority as a stakeholder partner in piloting the council’s ‘green social prescribing’ service to create healthier parks.
Our 'Green' Experiences, Events and Courses
In 2020 TGC has launched the first inner London training centre for teachers who want to train in Forest Schools or other aspects of outdoor learning. The training centre will also offer individuals who are interested in ‘green’ knowledge and crafts including forest bathing, meditation, Nordic Walking and botany drawing, giving residents an opportunity to have these experiences in beautiful outdoor spaces close to their homes.
TGC has a clear ambition and impact statement: Children and young people in England’s diverse communities are empowered to lead healthy and happy lives through curiosity, respect and care for our natural world. As Sir David Attenborough said, “No one will protect what they don’t care about and no one will care about what they have never experienced”. By giving urban children regular opportunities to learn outdoors and immersing them in urban parks, woodlands, forests and the countryside TGC is creating a generation which will care about nature and protect it and nature in its turn would add immeasurably to their health and happiness throughout their lives.