Plans for adventure playground and sensory garden in Darlington

The Northern Echo: FUTURE PLANS: West Park Academy students Thomas Reese, eight, and Olivia McCready, 11 FUTURE PLANS: West Park Academy students Thomas Reese, eight, and Olivia McCready, 11

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 include:

• A sensory garden with access for people with disabilities;

• 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.

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.

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.”

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