Primary school pupils and university staff collaborating on a gardening project inspired by the 2022 Commonwealth Games are helping to influence sport academic Mark Christie’s continuing research into the benefits of ‘green exercise’.
The new plots on the University of Cumbria Lancaster campus form part of the ‘Blooming Marvellous’ Commonwealth Games gardens project, an initiative led by Lancaster School Games organiser Steven Jamieson and delivered in partnership with Lancaster City Council.
With materials supplied by the local Beetham Nurseries garden centre to create three colourful areas, pupils from Bowerham School have been working with university library enquiry point co-ordinator Tom Langridge whilst Cathedral Catholic Primary School pupils have supported the Student and Academic Administration Service team.
The 'Blooming Marvellous’ project is set to culminate with a sponsored walk on 12 July, when pupils from up to 26 schools from the Lancaster School Sport Network tour new gardens hosted at several key sites across the area, including the university, St John’s Hospice and CancerCare.
Mark Christie, a sport senior lecturer within the university’s respected Institute of Health, said: “Participating in this project has demonstrated to us all that gardening is such a fun, inclusive activity for all ages. Such activities are not only great for engaging young people in nature-based activity, but also in providing them with substantive personal development benefits of teamworking, communication, organisation and problem solving. This is done through the process of designing and creating their own gardens, and understanding the issues in facilitating a sustainable garden for everyone to enjoy.”
The gardens also form part of the university approach to supporting the health and wellbeing of all its staff and students, including those based on its campuses in Cumbria, Lancashire, and London.
Mark Christie spearheads its Lancaster campus ‘Green Minds’ initiative, promoting nature-based activities and the positive impact they have on mental and physical health. He has also published six papers on the benefits of horticultural gardening and conservation work for different groups, and he is in the process of completing his PhD on the benefits of ‘green exercise’.
Participation in the ‘Blooming Marvellous’ Commonwealth Games garden project continues the university’s strong collaboration with the Lancaster School Sports Network that provides regular activities and events for schools and young learners across primary, secondary, and tertiary education.
Lancaster School Games organiser Steven Jamieson said: “Activities such as the Blooming Marvellous project engage some of those pupils who do not like traditional sports, and helps them find another activity to keep them healthy.
“Through our partnership with Lancaster City Council and with host gardens at sites including St John’s Hospice, CancerCare and the University of Cumbria, we’re delighted that the children’s colourful displays will bring joy to so many generations across our community.”