A chance conversation with an organisation called Tarmac, who were working on a section of the new Chisolm Trail in the summer of 2020, resulted in an opportunity to develop the grounds at Fen Ditton Community Primary.
Their organisation try to do some voluntary work in the locality to where they are carrying out work. They ended up providing the materials, machinery and labour all for free, and over a period of a week created a path, which follows the hedgerows and the perimeter of the school field. The pupils, who were in school during the first lockdown, designed the route and have been involved in the continuing development of this trail with some planting.
Our hard working PTFA, were then successful with a Covid Recovery related Community Chest Grant from South Cambridgeshire District Council, and funding from Cambridgeshire Community Foundation with the Marshalls Community First Fund, to enhance this trail further and help us achieve our aims to promote curiosity, as well as improve physical and mental wellbeing. This money has been spent on a rope fence, benches, posts and a sail for the summer, planting areas and coming soon, nature information signs.
We under-estimated what a positive impact this simple trail would have on our community. During playtimes and lunchtimes, children are constantly using it, which has been amazing during the winter months, especially when the school field is too muddy. The result has seen an increase in physical activity across the school and enabled so much more space on the playground. This has also resulted in a big reduction in pupils requiring first aid, with the additional space for active play and sports carried out safely. Some of our pupils use the trail for sensory breaks, and staff are often seen supporting pupils to regulate their emotions while they walk the route together.
Some comments by the pupils: “We build bug hotels, then go, and watch what is there…”
“We use it to walk and talk…”
“We run laps around it”
A recent pupil survey indicated that 90% of pupils use the trail at least once a week and 50% use it every day. Half of the pupils felt that the trail does positively help with their physical and mental health too.