A haven of green space: Learning from a pilot pre-post evaluation of a school-based social and therapeutic horticulture intervention with children

Summary

Horticultural intervention using garden-based activities may be effective in promoting mental and emotional well-being of children experiencing emotional and social difficulties

This paper discusses the evaluation findings of a pilot school-based social and therapeutic horticulture (STH) intervention referred to as “Haven of Green Space” (or “Haven Green Space”). Also presented is a critical reflection on the evaluation approach. Both the intervention and the evaluation are based, in part, on the “Five Ways to Wellbeing” framework. This framework, while designed to promote the physical and mental health of all people, is also viewed as a way to address health inequalities in a community. The Five Ways are: Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning, and Give. These five actions are embedded in the “Haven of Green Space” intervention which is designed for school children experiencing behavioral, emotional and social difficulties (BESD).

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Thirty-six children with BESD from three different schools (two primary and one secondary) in North West England participated in the pilot-testing of Haven Green Space intervention. All three schools were in high-poverty communities. The participating children attended monthly SHT sessions over a six-month period, each session two hours in length. Two horticulturists and a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service psychotherapist facilitated the sessions. While activities during the sessions included developing and maintaining gardens on the schoolgrounds, the primary focus of the activities was on fostering the wellbeing of students, rather than productive gardening. The primary focus of the evaluation was on trends in the mental health and wellbeing of the participating children. An additional evaluation goal was to explore how existing measures might assess the Five Ways framework in relation to children’s wellbeing. Two existing mental health evaluation measures were adapted for use with school children — the Mental Well Being Impact Assessment (MWIA) and Wellbeing Check Cards. Both measures were used for pre- and post-assessments. The MWIA is an evidence-based qualitative measure addressing three outcome-related domains: Enhancing control, Increasing Resilience and Community Asset, and Participation and Social Inclusion. The Wellbeing Check Cards assessment is a self-report measure where respondents use a Likert scale to record how they’ve been feeling over the last few weeks in relation to seven statements about mental wellbeing factors. Examples of statements include “I feel relaxed” and “I feel like I have friends.”

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Results of the MWIA for all three schools showed increases in the areas of “emotional wellbeing” and “self-help.” Findings from the Wellbeing Check Cards were not consistent with MWIA results, in that scores from the Wellbeing Check Cards showed decreases in many of the wellbeing domains. The timing of the post-assessment is offered as a possible contributing factor to the worsening scores, as the end of the program coincided with the children’s last days at primary school. The overall results, however, suggest a positive association between the Haven Green Space intervention and children’s improved mental wellbeing.

While further research is required to verify these findings, this pilot study does suggest that the Five Ways framework and the garden-based strategies used by Haven Green Space have potential for fostering children’s mental health, well-being, and social relationships.

Citation

Chiumento, A., Mukherjee, I., Chandna, J., Dutton, C., Rahman, A., Bristow, K., (2018). A haven of green space: Learning from a pilot pre-post evaluation of a school-based social and therapeutic horticulture intervention with children. BMC Public Health, 18

DOI

http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12889-018-5661-9

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Learning in health and physical education promotes children’s and students’ self-confidence and interpersonal skills. It encourages an understanding of self and personal safety, and fosters a positive self-concept and respect for others, together with broader concerns for community and world health.
All activities reception – Year 3 are based on experiential learning that encourages individuals to participate in a group environment and work to a level of challenge which stretches them but is not threatening.
Safety is our priority so all our activities are conducted by qualified and experienced staff members using industry approved techniques.

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Here at Glenhaven Park, we’re not just about School Camps, we’ve had many varied styled group camps over the years including;

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  • Specific Interest Groups i.e. Roller Derby Girls, Medieval Society etc.

So no matter what your interest/group is we can help tailor-make a group camp to suit your expectations and goals for your group; whether you want to do completely your own thing or include some of our activities into your mix.

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All of our activities are based on experiential learning that encourages individuals to participate in a group environment and work to a level of challenge which stretches them but is not threatening. Safety is our priority so all our activities are conducted by qualified and experienced staff members using industry approved techniques; we provide all necessary safety equipment which is professionally maintained.

at glenhaven park

Here at Glenhaven Park, we’re not just about School Camps, we’ve had many varied styled group camps over the years including;

  • Scouts
  • CFS Cadets
  • Youth Groups
  • Religious Retreats
  • Weddings
  • Football Groups
  • Family Reunions
  • Craft/Art Groups
  • Birthday Parties
  • Defence Force Cadets
  • Specific Interest Groups i.e. Roller Derby Girls, Medieval Society etc.

So no matter what your interest/group is we can help tailor-make a group camp to suit your expectations and goals for your group; whether you want to do completely your own thing or include some of our activities into your mix.




Outdoor Recreation (OR): the use of outdoor journeys for life-long play, enjoyment, adventure, health and well-being, fitness and socialisation. Outdoor Recreation skills are a tool to facilitate exploration of natural environments. - http://outdooreducationaustralia.org.au

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Glenhaven Park Camp Site is a residential and school camp site located in a peaceful, picturesque valley at Stockport SA, 20 minutes north of Gawler. Perfect for school camps and group bookings.

Our activities are challenging, educational and exciting and are based on Experiential Learning they include; High & Low ropes courses, Giant Swing, Initiative activities, archery, orienteering, bush skills, swimming and hiking.

We can accommodate 86 people in our 7 cabins which are fully air-conditioned with a toilet & bathroom and separated leader’s quarters, if your group is larger, the overflow can be accommodated in tents. Overall we can accommodate up to 150 people but we are on 16 acres so by prior arrangement any numbers may be possible.

 

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