Children at a Southwick nursery are enjoying all sorts of creative play in their newly restyled garden.
Parents and supporters have been fundraising for some months to transform the outside area at Church Lane Nursery.
It is behind the St Michael and All Angels Church hall, where the nursery is based, and the Rev Jonathan French was among those invited to the official opening today.
Tracy Vise, manager, cut the ribbon before allowing everyone into the garden to see the detail for themselves.
“We are really proud of the garden and the ethos behind it,” she said.
“The garden started off as bare ground. We put grass down but within six weeks it was dead. Then we put black matting down but the children were ending up dirty.
“One parent donated and laid the astroturf, which has saved us about £4,000. We do go out in all weathers and the children have free flow to the outside.”
She said the aim was to get rid of the old plastic toys that could do only one thing, like a car, and replace them with things like crates that could be a car but a lot of other things besides.
Tracy explained: “It is about getting the children to use their imagination. There is also risk taking, like learning something is heavy and they could hurt themselves if they drop it.
“There are real bricks and bits of guttering and grit. The children really enjoy using open-ended resources. The crates, planks and logs are really good for the children to learn about balance and risk taking. It is really good for their physical skills.”
There are 50 children on the roll, with a maximum of 24 per session.
Parents and children joined in some garden fundraising last year, a walk around Southwick Green, which meant they could buy a hobbit shed.
Tracy added: “We wanted to say thank you very much to everyone involved with the garden. Thank you to the church, too, for letting us have the garden, we are so lucky to have it.”
Mr French said the new garden looked brilliant and that Tracy did an excellent job at the nursery.
The nursery received a rating of outstanding from Ofsted in its last inspection nine months ago and the inspector, Rebecca Swindells, described Tracy as ‘inspirational’. Tracy has been with the nursery for 18 years and likes to encourage independence in the children.
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