CONTRACTORS have begun work which will transform school grounds into an adventure playground, sensory garden and place for reflection.
In an area of Darlington that is home to many Armed Forces personnel, West Park Academy will become the centre of a host of community activities thanks to backing by the Ministry of Defence.
The school successfully bid for funding under the Community Covenant Grant securing £38,500 towards the cost.
Fundraising within the school to supplement the scheme is already approaching the £4,000 mark towards a target figure of £10,000.
Students have been central to developing ideas for the grounds along with parents, governors, staff and the Army Welfare Service.
When completed the project will comprise:
• A sensory garden with access for people with disabilities and a water globe
• An adventure trail to encourage healthy lifestyle activities and develop skills
• A bandstand-cum-gazebo which will double as an outdoor classroom for 30 pupils
• Storage for local groups including guides, brownies, scouts and the Army
• Textured footpaths for barefoot strolls
• Outdoor musical instruments and mirrors
• A mud garden for digging
• A place for quiet reflection in an area where there is no nearby church.
The new facility will be used by West Park children, from nursery to Year 6, Armed Forces families, schools who don’t have outdoor gardens, including Reid Street and Holy Family RC Primary School and members of the community and local groups.
Thirsk-based specialists Image Playgrounds have been commissioned to carry out the project and the storage container will be decorated with designs by the school’s gifted and talent students.
West Park Academy finance director Sarah Roberts said: “In this part of Darlington 32 per cent are Armed Forces families and we have more than 50 service children on the role.
“The covenant grant is designed to raise awareness of the Armed Forces but the new facility will be for everyone and represent an incredible community effort.”