You may have observed some construction or a few new trees not in front of the school before. This area is the new butterfly-shaped sensory garden, and it is the latest addition to the beautiful AFNORTH campus.
Before, the garden was simply a grassy area where teachers occasionally brought students for recess and other activities or that students cut across on their way to the fields. But for now, since there are mounds of dirt and small white pebble paths, this field of play is inaccessible, and this shortcut is now a destination.
What is a sensory garden? Simply put, it is an area to help stimulate all the senses. The colours and scents of the plants will help with concentration and provide relaxing experiences. Ms Kathy Wood, school director and project organiser, explains that “When you develop a space, you have to consider how it can help improve our mental health, education and spiritual development.”
AFNORTH’s core values can be found in the Atalanta Garden: collaboration, creativity, character, communication, citizenship and critical thinking. The entire garden signifies collaboration and creativity in the way it was created. A group of architectural students from a local college were given the opportunity to observe the space and find a way to create the best design that reflected our school’s values. Our special garden can improve ‘character’ by letting ourselves think and explore our inner thoughts in peace.
The plants in the garden will vary and will be planted in the shape of a butterfly. The Netherlands has no shortage of beautiful and colourful plants. Rhododendron, Anemone and Lupinus are examples of plants that will be part of the garden to activate the sense of smell and sight.
These plants are native, as they can survive in the unpredictable climate of this country. The Atalanta butterfly inspires the silhouette of the garden. This butterfly is home to different parts of the planet, but predominantly from Europe, North America and Asia. The insect represents the diversity of our military community. The Atalanta is a people-friendly butterfly and wears the colours of AFNORTH – green and red.
According to Ms Wood, the garden is “An outdoor educational resource for the school community.” Teachers will be able to use the garden for investigating mathematics, for example, calculating the area of yellow flowers or estimating the number of pebbles. A kindergarten class can identify the different colours around the space. Learning about nature fuels the need to explore within children. They can discover nature and learn while enjoying themselves. Furthermore, Atalanta can give high school students a moment to escape the stressors of everyday life and take a break for themselves, which sometimes can be genuinely beneficial.
There are regular renovations in our school community to improve our daily lives. AFNORTH always has new, innovative projects that carry our values and demonstrate the importance of our collective well-being. As you watch the plants in the garden grow, remember that they can help people express themselves and think about their future and simply relax and escape the world’s worries.
Eleyna Rodger, AFNORTH student, 10th grade
Brunssum, The Netherlands, April 8, 2022.
See also: The Garden