This year the Rotary Club of Leicester lead by Rotarian Diana Esho decided to run a youth competition to design a multi-sensory garden. The aim of the competition was to strengthen our links within the local community and to promote the services Rotary offers such as volunteering and an array of youth competitions.
The club reached out to Nether Hall School to see if they would collaborate with us to build a garden for their pupils. The school based close to Hamilton supports pupils with a variety of complex disabilities. Nether Hall School agreed to and in March we went to look at the site. It was important to get the design right, wheelchair access was a key element and so was catering for the 5 senses such as smell, touch, sight, hearing, and taste.
With help from the Nether Hall School headteacher, the club approached the headteacher at Orchard Mead Academy to see if their pupils would take part in a competition to design the garden. Due to Covid, the 2 other schools the club approached were unable to enter their pupils. The academy is sited right next to Nether Hall School so it was great they agreed to come on board and 42 year 10 pupils took part.
The competition brief was very strict, the designs had to include elements from the 5 senses, wheelchair access, and a Rotary peace pole as well as the colour purple the colour used by the Rotary End Polio Now campaign. Nether Hall School requested that the designs should include recycled materials such as eco-bricks. These bricks are made from recycled plastic bottles and are filled with sand, perfect for building small walls for planting vegetables and flowers.
Orchard Mead Academy produced some amazing designs for judging. Each design was judged by a selection of local businesses based on their experience as well as the services their businesses provided. Award-winning Jasmein Ayub from The Landscape Architects had previously designed a selection of multi-sensory gardens, Simon Winfield from Red Monkey Play Ltd supplies play equipment and also agreed to donate wooden benches, Award-winning Mark Esho from Access Rating provide consultancy services and audits assessing access to building for disability people, Jane Hauton a teacher from Nether Hall School, and finally Parmdeep Vadesha and Diana Esho from The Rotary Club of Leicester. The judging was difficult due to the quality of the designs and it was decided that there would be more than 1 prize but 7! Each design had its’ own strengths and included some very creative elements.
The next phase of the project will be the build which will take place over the summer holidays. A local company called Taylor Made Landscapes will complete the groundwork free of charge as well as the wheelchair access to the garden, and volunteers will help plant and build. Due to the generosity of local companies donating their time for free and collaborating with the club, plus the club and individual club members donating cash, we have a pot of money to spend on some plants and features to make the garden complete.
If you would like to help with the build or donate items such as plants or reflective mirrors please get in contact with the club through the contact us page.