Creating a sense of belonging through a hands-on, extracurricular experience
Youth Centre l’Aigle is a meeting space for 11 to 17 years old kids. The association organizes different non-compulsory extracurricular activities in which kids decide whether or not to participate.
The various activities related to the garden project attract kids every week, which shows a real interest on their part. Furthermore, the project allowed the youth centre to give access, for the first time, to an activity for which a fixed day of the week is allocated.
By setting up an activity in which youths can participate on a regular basis and in collaboration with other kids, it creates a community dynamic and a sense of belonging to the youth centre. A bond of trust is created between kids and the centre, where they can go to develop their full potential.
Kim Fauchon, clinical coordinator and Vireo project manager at Youth Centre l’Aigle, is very excited by the impact she is seeing in the participants.
“Looking after the garden together allows us to build relationships with the kids. I’ve noticed that they are calmer, more composed, near the garden. We have great discussions around it, and it becomes a support to the intervention.”
Community-based impacts: a place for sharing and developing one’s potential
This garden project has led to a unique partnership with other community stakeholders. The neighborhood high school asked the youth centre if students could come and interact with the garden as part of their “passions” class. The request was received with enthusiasm, as it is an opportunity to bring together several actors around the kids.
This partnership was also an opportunity for the youth centre to showcase their services and environment, and the school was able to create a hands-on experience with educational value.
“We have partnered with the school for students to come tend to the garden during their passions class. This allows them to see the youth centre and makes them want to come participate in our activities. It’s a beautiful collaboration.”
This educational activity is a great way to create a valuable link between the community and youth, whether it is in the context of a donation or harvest sharing, or with the objective of involving different actors and resources in different steps of the process.
Encouraging youth autonomy through a digital learning platform
Specific objectives of the extracurricular garden project among youth:
- Encourage local and healthy eating
- Develop a sense of belonging to the youth centre
- Promote their involvement in their community
- Develop entrepreneurial competencies
- Increase their peace of mind
“We wanted a long term project to stimulate perseverance. Thanks to the Vireo garden, they are earning the fruits of their efforts and developing their resilience.”
The overall direction of the hydroponic garden project was decided by the different stakeholders in the organization, but kids are very much involved in the maintenance and harvest process, during which they transform and distribute the crops. During the last harvests, they prepared a salad for the spaghetti dinner at the youth centre, and several kids were even able to bring a lettuce back home to enjoy with their family. They also grew basil and made pesto, which they sold and shared with other kids from the community.
The Vireo digital platform was also useful to participants in organizing educational activities related to the garden. The kids have learned and developed skills and competencies that will benefit them in the long run. The platform being available at all times, they could refer to it during their maintenance activities, allowing them to take the lead. The different social workers were very impressed by youths’ initiative and involvement in this project.
“The Vireo platform makes kids autonomous. Instead of asking their questions to the adults, they developed the reflex of referring to the instructions to find the answers. It’s beautiful to see them working as a team and help each other in this way.”
The Vireo educational garden project
Setting up a Vireo hydroponic garden in your school will allow your students to develop their autonomy. The Vireo platform includes multiple features that aim for the development of essential competencies and a sense of responsibility. Let your students be in charge of the maintenance of the garden with guided instructions, or let them decide the direction of the project. By creating a project for and by your students, they will have a memorable and rewarding educational experience.