Here are two case studies, written about two young people who have accessed the Project.
Child A is ten years old and was initially referred to the project in October 2011, he had already been in care for two years but in the same year he was moved to a children’s home as his carer’s were finding him too difficult to manage. He was not in any formal educational establishment at the time after two schools were unable to provide for his needs. As a result of his significant trauma and loss he has developmental delay i.e. speech, emotional, social, behavioural.
For nine months, Child A has benefitted from direct mentoring at the Green Fingers site at Top Barn Farm. The sessions run for two hours on a Tuesday afternoon. The benefits from the sessions have become apparent as they have progressed.
Child A was referred to the project because it could help provide what he needed at the time. This includes, amongst many other things, a therapeutic environment, a non-traditionalist approach to learning and appropriate ways in which to expend energy. It became clear very quickly that Child A was functioning academically and socially at an age similar to that of a four or five year old. He struggled with fine motor skills and could not read or write. He enjoyed activities that involved gross motor skills, like digging, pushing a wheelbarrow or throwing stones, activities that also brought instant gratification; he could not contemplate working on something in order to bring about a result that was not very immediate.
Over the months the change in Child A has really become apparent. His fine motor skills have improved greatly. When using a drill or hammering in a nail he has learnt to take his time and his movements are much more refined. His confidence has grown immensely, alongside this he has developed a more mature attitude to the activities he undertakes at Green Fingers. He no longer refers to things as ‘boring’, choosing instead to have a go. His respect for staff has grown and he is happier to relinquish control to adults, something which demonstrates his growing feeling of safety and security; the ability to trust adults with his wellbeing. Child A has also learnt about tending and looking after plants (including fruit and vegetables) in his own raised-bed at the site. He has enjoyed watching the plants grow and has learnt basic nurturing skills. Often he will look at plants elsewhere on the site and compare them to his plants if they are at different stages of growth. It helps him to see the long-term picture and realise that his actions now will affect the future health of the plants. This is just one example of the life lessons that John has been learning as this general principle shows; our actions now, affect the future.
” Green Fingers has been particularly useful for one of our young people who is not in full time education, he attends once weekly and benefits from one to one mentoring from either David or Lee, Child A thoroughly enjoys his time and has learnt how to grow fruit and vegetables and participated in woodwork amongst many other activities.”
Children’s Home Worker – Works with Child A where he is accommodated.
Child B aged 5 who has attended Green Fingers from the start presented with developmental trauma such as speech and language delay, unable to walk, and under weight and height for a typical child of this age. This child was unable to display their emotional state, being simply described as “empty and blank”, her confidence and self esteem was also extremely low. Typically children of this age are able to respond to pain through crying and seeking out help from an adult, however, something simple as a fall by this child would result in showing no emotions as their early experiences had led them to learn that adults do not meet their needs when crying.
At the beginning of the sessions Child B was fearful of other adults present and would remain firmly by their carer’s side. We would see little attempt at taking part in the activities and mostly the sessions would be a little overwhelming. Over a period of months this child’s engagement with others increased as well as their participation in activities.
Having the opportunity to attend Green Fingers meant that this child was exposed to positive experiences such as feeling safe, building relationships, having their emotional needs met, being respected and valued, increase in self esteem and confidence, opportunities to mix with other children, developing an awareness of nature, gardening and learning social skills.
Two years on, these positive experiences at Green Fingers coupled with the care and nurture from carers has meant this child is very confident when engaging with both adults and young people enjoying a laugh and giggle along the way, this child is able to self regulate feelings and emotions. The child is also able to assert themselves appropriately.
“As an Early Years Practitioner in a supporting role within education, being able to refer to the Green Fingers Project is a lovely way of developing a relationship and building on the positive experiences that she now receives. By just mentioning some of the workers at Green Fingers will allow Child B to start talking (although it is sometimes difficult to understand what she is saying) with animated expressions that describes the enjoyment she and fabulous experience she receives. It provides a topic of conversation that evokes positive, happy memories which is clearly seen and felt. Child B’s confidence has grown so much over the last two years, and her class room teacher also feels that it is due to the additional support provided both by other services and the experiences that the foster carers provide including attending the Green Fingers Project which has made the difference.”
Early Years Practitioner – Allocated to work with Child B.