22 Schools Learn About Growing and Nature | Radius Housing and Keep NI Beautiful

01 July 2022

St Malachy's Primary School | NICRC

Schools from across Northern Ireland have been getting green fingers and learning about bees, bugs and butterflies as part of the Radius Growing Wild Schools Biodiversity Project. The programme, designed by and funded through Radius Housing is facilitated by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful. Among the schools participating are St Gerard’s School and St Malachy’s, both in Belfast.

The Growing Wild Schools Biodiversity Project helps children learn more about nature, through linking to Keep NI Beautiful’s prestigious Green Flag Award. Workshops run out by KNIB saw young people growing their own biodiversity garden. Each school was presented with a biodiversity kit by Radius Housing, containing the plants and seeds to start growing, as well as a raised planting bed. The kit also included items for the animals and insects, such as bird and bat box, bee house and a hedgehog box.

This project aims to develop cross community working within Radius’ T:buc / Housing for All shared housing areas and beyond. The initial T:buc developments were a ‘Headline Action’ in the NI Executive Together: Building a United Community Strategy. Housing for All is the Department for Communities and Northern Ireland Housing Executive’s Shared Housing Programme, and it forms part of the Programme for Government.

Radius continues to work in partnership with local Advisory Group stakeholders, and with residents to develop each scheme’s Good Relations Plan. This project organised as part of these plans, brings people from different backgrounds together for training and to develop and deliver small environmental projects. The Schools project has paired local schools in each Shared Housing area to facilitate cross community working, with workshops led by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful. This has helped to build and strengthen local relationships, benefitting the wider community.

The Growing Wild programme is funded through the NI Executive Together: Building a United Community Strategy, as well as the Department for Communities and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive’s Shared Housing programme. Radius has shared housing developments in nine areas across Northern Ireland.  Good Relations Plans include ‘bridging’ events with the wider community encouraging a range of outcomes including Health & Wellbeing and Education & Training.

Melanie Rintoul, from Radius said “Biodiversity and nature are so important, they play a really positive role for all of us and for the environment. The Radius Growing Wild Schools Biodiversity Project is an initiative that we are very proud of. The children involved are in-charge of looking after their own biodiversity garden, and can see real progress over the weeks as it begins to bloom and grow. These projects are really important to building strong community relations.”

Charlene McKeown from Keep NI Beautiful added “Getting outdoors and growing your own food is an essential life skill our youth will require moving forward in their lives. We are helping build resiliency in our youth all while helping biodiversity recover.”

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