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The Corporation

Posted: 15/08/16

Enterprising college students boost school’s outdoor play project

A Mansfield Woodhouse special school’s bid to create a sensory garden has been boosted by enterprising students at West Nottinghamshire College.

The enterprising West Nottinghamshire College students present their fundraising total to Yeoman Park School staff and pupils.

Twenty-year-olds Sophie Smith, Sydni Hubbard, Jennifer Baxter and Melissa Spence, and Kirsty Aram, 21, have given £300 to Yeoman Park School’s project to transform disused land on the school site into an outdoor learning environment that aids pupils’ health and wellbeing.

It came after they staged a fundraising dinner in the college’s commercial restaurant, Refined, which they were marked and assessed on for their studies towards the foundation degree in tourism and event management.

The students – who are returning to college in September to study a full-honours degree in business and management – decided to support the school after hearing about its plans from Sydni’s mother, Suzanne Hubbard, who works there as a teaching assistant.

Attended by more than 50 family members and friends, the event saw cash pouring in from ticket sales and a tombola, while media students provided entertainment by performing a cabaret.

The school, which serves almost 90 pupils aged three to 19 with severe learning difficulties and complex medical needs, is trying to raise up to £12,000 to turn empty land on the site, on Park Hall Road, into a stimulating green space.

Called ‘The Magic Wood’, it will feature a willow tunnel, and blossom and fruit trees for imaginative play and den-making, a grassed section and planting area for digging and sowing, stepping stones for fun and games, picnic bench for outdoor eating and wheelchair access.

School leaders insist the project will promote physical activity and wellbeing through digging, exploring and playing in a calm, peaceful and natural space.

Work is expected to start in October. Earlier this year parents and carers spent five days clearing the overgrown land earmarked for the scheme, filling three refuse skips with garden waste and rubbish.

College student Sophie, from Ravenshead, said: “As soon as we heard about the school’s plans, we really wanted to help. It’s nice to support a small, local project because we can come back and see how the money has helped.

“We organised the fundraising dinner as part of the course’s venue and entertainment management module, and learnt a lot about what is involved in planning and running a successful event.

“It was very challenging but we pulled it off and were delighted with the amount raised.”

Jane Cooper, headteacher at Yeoman Park School, said: “I’d like to thank Sophie, Sydni, Jennifer, Melissa and Kirsty for their hard work in raising this money, which is hugely appreciated by all the children and staff.

“It’s touching to think they have supported our school in this way. Donations like this enable us to develop lovely projects such as the Magic Wood, which will enhance our curriculum for the young people.

“I look forward to welcoming the students to see the sensory garden once it’s finished.”