Paralympic Spirit Alive in South Bristol Campus
The fantastic spirit of the Paralympics is present at Bridge Learning Campus (BLC) in Hartcliffe. Apart from a Primary and a Secondary School, the campus has a Special Needs School - New Fosseway and a Student Support Centre (SSC) which supports children excluded from mainstream education.
Between these two special schools lay a barren piece of land which was wasting away and needed some attention. The children from The SSC thought it might make a great garden, but not just for themselves but also for the children at New Fosseway, many of whom have physical challenges or conditions such as Autism. These kids from the Student Support Centre wanted to develop closer ties with their neighbours at New Fosseway.
Claire Cole, a Learning Support Assistant from the SSC said, "Both sets of children were excluded from the mainstream world and bonds of friendship and mutual understanding were being formed. When our pupils suggested a shared garden, with a strong sensory theme, to bring the two schools even closer together, we could only support such a brilliant idea!"
A wonderful piece of luck then occurred which made this fabulous plan (now called Strawberry Square) turn into reality. Just some weeks later, Bridge Learning Campus were contacted by the Hartclife & Withywood Community Partnership and put in touch with "The Flower Pot Gang". This was the name given to Anneka Rice the TV presenter, Phil Tufnell the England cricketer/TV celebrity and Joe Swift of Gardeners' World fame.
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They were looking to design and build gardens across communities where such a project would really make a difference to the community and bring people closer. The truely inclusive nature of the ideas from Bridge Campus were exactly what they were looking for and, despite the torrential rain, Strawberry Square was built by late August. Children from both schools, volunteers and teachers all stood shoulder to shoulder and finished the job. Strawberry Square in Hartcliffe became a reality!
Broadcast on BBC1 on the 29th August, (some clips can be seen here) it told the story of how the garden was built to bring young people, who despite their real challenges, came together and treated each other as equals. And this happened just as the Paralympics caught the mood of the nation.