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Garston school partners with Everton in the Community and Colas to create new outdoor learning area

The Academy of St Nicholas in Garston has unveiled a new sustainable outdoor learning area based on the idea of five eco-conscious Year 9 students.

As part of the Premier League Inspires programme, students Emanuel, Harvey, Melissa, Melissa and Shea submitted a unique entry to the Inspires Challenge based on this year’s theme around sustainability.

Working with Everton in the Community, the students’ submission detailed ways in which they would like to nurture their school’s outdoor environment, grow produce and create a space that supports mental health and wellbeing, all in a sustainable way.

The students presented their idea to a judging panel made up of representatives from Colas Ltd, Everton in the Community and Wates Group.

The esteemed panel was extremely impressed by their entry and, out of six other schools, chose The Academy of St Nicholas as the regional winners, meaning that their idea would be brought to life.

On the judging panel was Gill Carr, social value/public liaison officer at Colas Ltd. She commented: “The group’s idea stood out for me immediately. I was so happy that they won and straightaway offered the support from Colas to turn their ideas into reality.”

The space which has recently been completed by Colas Ltd using only sustainable materials, will now enable students to enjoy a dedicated area of the academy’s vast surroundings. Raised beds have been built to grow fruit and vegetables which will be harvested and donated to local foodbanks.

A large bug hotel for wildlife and insects has been constructed in order to create a safe space for them to shelter, hide from predators and raise their young.

A fire pit with stools made from tree trunks provides a group seating area and a pergola will offer students the chance to sit, talk and reflect.

To celebrate the unveiling, Everton in the Community and The Academy of St Nicholas invited pupils from Holy Trinity Catholic Primary School, Garston, to enjoy the new space and take part in activities led by the academy’s students.

Pupils got to learn more about birds and made bird feeders using recycled bottles and wrote messages of positivity on rocks which will be displayed within the flower beds. The children will be able to see their rocks in September when they join the school as Year 7s.

Harvey said: “I am really proud to have won the Premier League Inspires Sustainability Challenge. To see our idea come together has been amazing and I can wait to see it being used by everyone.”

Mr Adam Robinson, senior deputy headteacher at The Academy of St Nicholas, said: “A huge well done to Emanuel, Harvey, Melissa, Melissa and Shea. It is such a fantastic achievement, and they now have something they can call their own in school.

“The space is such a welcomed addition and will allow our students to learn, develop and grow in a new environment. A huge thank you to Everton in the Community and Colas for enabling us to make this vision a reality. It will be a valued learning area many years to come.”

Speaking after the event, Premier League Inspires manager, Carly Wheeler added: “To see what started as just as an idea from young people on the PL Inspires programme to now see it become a reality made the unveiling extra special. I don’t think there was anybody present at the unveiling who wasn’t beaming with pride to see it as a finished article.

“Whilst the project in itself has been on quite the journey, it also reflects the journey our young people who have spearheaded the project have been on also with their self-development, confidence and self-esteem.

“Their achievements were reiterated when they were recently acknowledged at the charity’s Breakthrough Awards for being innovative, impactful and for having long-lasting positive effects on the environment.”

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