Stimulating the senses

St Patrick’s Primary School, Cessnock prides itself on its gardens and it has, without doubt, some of the best in the Diocese. Our recent addition has visitors’ senses working overtime.

It has bush tucker food and assorted herbs that appeal to the sense of smell and taste; a selection of flowering plants that provide a visual feast for the eyes; and a variety of plants whose textures stimulate the sense of touch. It also has a wind chime designed to calm and soothe with its melodic tinkles.

The sensory garden was first suggested by one of our parents, Mischelle Dal Bianco who was working for Ability Links at the time and thought it would be a good inclusion and a way of assisting our students on the autism spectrum.

A letter was composed and sent to Bunnings, outlining our plan. Bunnings was only too pleased to assist us and donated the timber for the garden and all the plants and accessories. The soil, all five cubic metres of it, was paid for by money raised from our Return & Earn.

Ability Links also donated a variety of garden ornaments and a specially made sign featuring symbols signifying garden terms.    

The sensory garden is not only aesthetically pleasing for our school, but it also provides a safe place for children to chill out if feeling anxious. We also have an army of volunteers who help during lunch break.

Chores may include weeding, sweeping paths, or just getting on a watering can and giving plants a good soak.

Recently, we have added outdoor learning resources that complement our garden. These include a street library, 100s chart, a map of Australia, a compass, and a new hopscotch.

We are expecting a new sign any day now with blades pointing to all the capital cities in Australia, including their distances. And let’s not forget the North and South Poles.

We have a long-term scheme to turn St Patrick’s into a botanical garden. Plans are under way to screen the front of the school on Wollombi Road to give the playing area more privacy from outside, and to line the main thoroughfare into the school with hedge plants to create a wall of green.

For other schools that may be interested in creating their own gardens, Bunnings do support community projects, and especially schools. Contact your local Bunnings for more information.

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