Case Study #2 – Unexpected Gifts For Everyone!
Photos on the walls inside Barr Beacon Lodge show the site before the project began and at many stages as the project progresses. The other walls have nature scenes painted on them helping to create the ‘out in the country’ feeling inside.
Sat at a table, facing a handsomely painted deer on the wall Claire, one of Skills Tanks Learner Support Assistants and student Ben are up at Barr Beacon Lodge working on a crossword with a nature theme. Ben, has little verbal communication, and it is interesting to observe how engaged he is and how seemingly comfortable he is in his surroundings.
Claire explains “he repeats to you when he’s happy.” She beckons me to sit down and join them. Ben watches me for a moment and then reengages with Claire, I can see his concentration grow as they talk about the goings-on at Beacon Lodge. Ben repeats after Claire “planting, digging, sweeping,” listing the pursuits he enjoys most at Barr Beacon.
“He loves coming here,” Claire tells me and is looking forward to the afternoon walk to get some fresh air, stretch his legs and get involved with the goings-on around him. Attending Skills Tank at the Lodge is now part of Claire and Ben’s daily routine, a good alternative to being at the hub.
In the past, one of Ben’s more challenging behaviours was throwing things, it his way of getting rid of the frustrations that build up inside when he cannot achieve what he wants to. As Claire’s understanding of Ben has grown, and his trust in her has grown together they have learnt to deal with this behaviour, the lodge has been an integral part of this. Claire explains; Ben likes to walk around a lot and to spend a lot of time in small spaces agitates him, in turn, triggering his behaviours.
The balance of time outdoors and time inside at the lodge is helping Ben become more comfortable inside, creating less tension and frustration inside him. Now that Ben has been here all year round he has learnt the magic of the seasons, seeing the daffodils bloom, the trees turn green as the leaves burst forth, feeling the warmth of summer and helping with the weekly lawn cutting. Seeing the leaves go golden brown in autumn and the planting of bulbs ready for spring as the weather turns windy, wet and cold.
Together Ben and Claire have found an outlet for their respective talents. Ben enjoys some physical activity, which has a calming effect both on his time at Care First, and his time at home with his parents. Claire has time to share her passion for gardening, and skills in art and design with the students, something unique to the Barr Beacon Lodge project.
In clearing the area, the Care First team have found some tunnels, which may help the community piece together more of the history of Barr Beacon. Living locally, Claire is excited to help create a haven for the students to improve their wellbeing and to see what else they find and what else they can do to give something back to the local community.
The success of this project is evident in the unexpected gifts it is bringing to students, staff, parents and the local community.
A positive transformation inside and outside of the lodge as well the students and staff.