Sacred Heart becomes city's first school to try out mental health play areas - The Coventry Observer

11th Aug, 2022

Sacred Heart becomes city's first school to try out mental health play areas

Ryan Smith 1st Jun, 2022 Updated: 2nd Jun, 2022

CHILDREN at Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School will be the city’s first to try out Outdoor Play and Learning (OPAL) areas – an award-winning scheme which promotes mental health and well-being among youngsters.

Sacred Heart is one of only a handful of West Midlands schools to adopt the scheme.

The new play areas are designed to increase the number of activities available during playtime with features including a water zone, sandpit, quiet spaces and a woodland trail.

For the more creative children, there is also a construction zone with a play car, pallets and piping, as well as a mud kitchen stocked up with pots, pans and aprons.

The 420 children at the school loved the new areas with Alexa in year four saying having so much to do made lunchtime a lot more fun.

Twelve school staff have been taking part in OPAL’s mentoring programme from September where they have received in-depth risk and benefit evaluation training.

Staff and parents volunteered to help to make the OPAL areas and local businesses including Martins Fixings, P Murphy and Sons Construction and Jaguar Land Rover provided additional labour and materials.

The school will develop more play areas and is looking for compost donations for tyre planters.

It is encouraging local people and businesses wanting to support the project to get in touch.

Sacred Heart’s Sophie Newman said: “It’s incredible to see the instant impact our OPAL facilities have had on playtime, with children exploring with their friends and letting their imaginations run wild in what is a crucial part of the school day.”

She thanked everyone who had supported the project and helped get OPAL up-and-running, by volunteering, sending donations, and the OPAL team for ensuring play times at Sacred Heart had been ‘transformed’.

Visit sacredheart.coventry.sch.uk for more and to contact the school.

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