At the start of this academic year here at Willow Bank Children’s Hospital School we got two new members to the team ‘Doris’ and ‘Mable’ tow Guinea Pigs, and the students and staff where all extremely excited about it.
At Willow Bank we work with students aged between 11-16 years old and most of the students we work with suffer from a variety of different mental health issues. The reasoning behind us getting Doris and Mable was to help the students when they are struggling and in turn help them with their mental health.
Pets at Home very kindly donated everything we would need to be able to look after the girls and both staff and students had great fun putting the hutch together and getting ready for their big arrival. On the 19th September 2017 Doris and Mable finally arrived, and we haven’t looked back they have become an integral part of our school day, particularly with those students who are finding it difficult in class and they can come out and spend some time holding and feeding the girls which we have seen is helping to reduce anxiety levels with our students, as well as helping students that are new to the school or come into Willow Bank from outreach. It gives these students something to look forward to when coming into school.
As the guinea pigs have been such a massive success, we have started a new project which is going to involve predominantly our KS3 students which is setting up and maintaining a small 57l fish tank in our social space, to help create a calm area where students can go to sit and relax whilst watching the fish, as studies have shown that having fish does reduce stress and anxiety.
All students are again really excited for the fish to arrive, an for KS3 it will give then skills to be able to set up and maintain their own fish tanks which could help them in the future.
As well as both projects we have had a lot more happening in school, our Eco-Committee have been working really hard with our catering manager to look at how we can reduce waste and find eco-friendly cleaning products, that we can use instead to help the environment and we have had some very interesting results.
We started by doing an audit to see what waste could be recycled as at that time we didn’t recycle a lot from the kitchen, and looked at what could be composted. Over the three-week period we found that by just thinking before throwing items away we where able to reduce our general waste by 2/3 which was incredible, and as a result we have got our general refuse bins swapped and now have a smaller general waste bin and a much larger recycling bin. The Eco Committee created an area in the garden where the kitchen waste could be composted. We have also been working hard at swapping all the kitchen cleaning products to eco-friendly ones.
We have organised a ‘Switch Off Fortnight’ event at school that saw us turning off the lights just for one lesson back in November 2017, to try and help the school save money and we manged to save over £25 for the two weeks, so the Eco-Committee are looking at organising another even in the spring term and again in the summer term.
Willow Bank school are now part of the Wrigley Litter Less Campaign, which is going to see 15 school from Leicester city do a big litter pick even on the 2nd March 2018 to kick start the Great British Spring Clean event. This is an event that the whole school will be doing with every student doing some litter picking in the morning and then a few students going onto Abbey Park in the afternoon with our litter to show the impact litter has on the city of Leicester.