On Sunday the 21stof July, around fifty of our ESOL students and their families joined some of our ACAA staff and volunteers for a day out in Kew Gardens. We had a great day spent exploring the beautiful gardens. We started off the day with a picnic, followed by some delicious ice cream later in the afternoon from one of the nearby cafes. The afternoon was spent walking around the different gardens, venturing across the Treetop Walkway, looking at the flowers and plants on display, and admiring the Great Pagoda. Finally, the children were thrilled to get the chance to climb, run, jump around and explore the interactive Children’s Garden.
Not only was this day a chance for our students and their families to unwind and enjoy themselves; it also helped to provide access to an important site of Britain’s cultural heritage and beauty, sites which are often difficult to access for those without the funds or means of doing so. The ACAA is lucky enough to be part of the annual community membership scheme in Kew Gardens, which meant that we were able to take up to 60 beneficiaries over the year. Usually, one adult ticket to Kew Gardens costs just under twenty pounds. Unfortunately, the relative high cost of tickets for many public attractions in Britain often leaves them being reserved for people with a larger amount of money spare for cultural activities. This membership initiative helps people who face barriers when visiting gardens independently, which was great because it allowed our students to all come together and enjoy this cultural activity, regardless of their financial situations and backgrounds.
It is widely accepted that spending time in the outdoors and amongst nature can have many benefits for our mental health and wellbeing. Mind, the mental health charity, have stated that spending time in green space or bringing nature into your everyday life can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing. It can better your mood, reduce feelings of stress, improve your confidence and help you to make new connections both with the environment and other people. When it comes to the successful integration of people into a different culture and society, having a positive outlook and the confidence to form connections can be hugely beneficial to this process and overcome various obstacles. Just last year, the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, released a report titled The Mayor’s Strategy for Social Integration.In this report, Khan cites green spaces as one of the main spaces for social integration in the city, helping to erase barriers and bring people together in one area. With integration at the heart of our ethos at the ACAA, this was something we had in mind when we were planning the day trip to Kew Gardens for the students of our ESOL language classes. While our students really enjoy the language classes that we offer them, it was lovely to leave the classroom environment and take time enjoying the outdoors, showing them new parts of the city that they live in and helping them getting to know it more.