Our vision for Canada is that all new comer students can participate in activities regardless of their lack of English skills and contribute meaningful to the society by brining and using their expertise in different fields.
One day, the students started to describe their home environments. They all talk about gardens and how these were destroyed by war. They all wished they could have a garden to plant fruits, flowers and veggies but also a place they could experience quietness and peace. We started to look at places within the school. We chose a garden that was abandoned. We started to plan and design what we could do to make it a zen garden. In April, 2017, the students worked hard, hand-weeding about 20 square meters of a courtyard full of thistles. We are still way far to finish.What we have observed is that when we worked in the garden, the students started to develop responsibility and caring. Students who were unmotivated in class, started to show interest and actually were happy to come to school and interact with others without getting into conflicts. We saw students were more open to learn academically as something had switched in their minds. After we implemented yoga outside, students were less anxious and more peaceful.
Reflection & Celebration
When students that have suffered from trauma are involved in therapeutic healing ( such as gardening, yoga, meditation), they are ready to learn and contribute to the school community in a positive way.
Having a zen garden give students a feeling of security, grounding and safety. It also connects them to their home.We started sharing our findings with teachers at schools that have similar population of refugees. As we just started the program ( reason why we are asking for this grant), more sharing will be done during our LEAP meetings and workshops. The initiative is sustainable as students in grade 4 and 5 are being trained in the healing techniques and the creation/maintenance of the garden. Grade 5’s train grade 4 on the activities that we carry out. During summer, we have volunteers from the community coming to take care of the garden each week.