SEAFORD College’s Big Day Out saw an unprecedented number of students and staff surge out into the community to help a variety of environmental and social causes.
More than 450 people took part in the Petworth college’s third annual Community Action Day at 33 different locations in West Sussex.
Head teacher John Green, who created the initiative, said: “The main idea is to make a positive difference to the surrounding community.
“Due to the success last year, Wednesday afternoons are now blocked out in the timetable for weekly community events. Our students are extremely fortunate to study and live in such a beautiful part of the country, it is only right that they put something back.”
Pupils took residents from care homes in Petworth, Pulborough, Steyning and Bognor Regis out for tea and cake, following on from the successful Picnic in the Park event, where residents from Shaw Care Home Group had a picnic in Seaford’s beautiful grounds, and Macari’s café in Bognor Regis provided free drinks.
Students and staff also assisted with a range of social projects, visiting the Aldingbourne Centre, a trust dedicated to helping those with learning disabilities to reach their potential and enjoy life.
Others visited local schools – Oakwood, Conifers and St Peter’s in Shoreham – to lead activities with pupils.
Emma Teague, head of girls’ games, visited St Peter’s with four students to help with a range of numeracy and literacy activities.
St Peters’s head teacher, Mrs Kate Crees, said: “We are very grateful to Seaford College for including us in their community project. Their support was much appreciated and enjoyed by the children. We hope to be included again next year.”
Year ten students provided a free car wash in Midhurst, while others returned to the Whyke Estate in Chichester to help vulnerable residents.
In March, Seaford was awarded the national Making a Lasting Difference Award by the Hyde Group, for its work on the estate during last year’s Community Action Day.
Seaford pupils were also busy helping the environment. Prep school pupils embarked on a litter-picking mission across West Sussex, with years five and six on the beach at Bracklesham, Bognor and Selsey, and year four at Petworth House.
One group helped to improve the environment by removing Himalayan balsam, a rapidly growing invasive plant that smothers other vegetation, from the RSPB Pulborough Brooks.
Mr Green joined in the effort at Monkmead Wood and was delighted to be helping this important environmental cause.
Students teamed up with parish councils in Bury, Lavant and Oving to help improve the environment for local residents.
Deputy head William Yates, who assisted Lavant Parish Council, said: “We spent the morning clearing the play area, and the afternoon clearing paths. The students were great; Lavant Parish Council was really appreciative and want us to come back next year. It was a hugely positive experience.”
Staff and students also volunteered at a variety of animal shelters, helping with dog-walking at Clymping Dog Sanctuary, visiting ABC Animal Sanctuary and Brent Lodge Wildlife Hospital.
At Brent Lodge, students helped to look after baby hedgehogs, who need feeding every hour with formula milk. The hedgehog population in the United Kingdom is under threat of extinction by 2026, and Brent Lodge plays a vital role in sustaining the population.
Teacher Yvonne Clarke said: “The students have come back exhausted, but full of the joy that you get from nurturing a young baby. They did really well.”
Community co-ordinator Clive Thorpe, who organised the day, said: “It’s really important that our students realise just how lucky they are, it’s great for them to get out and see that people are not as fortunate as themselves. It’s good form them to discover skills they didn’t know they’ve got.
“Thank you very much to Compass, who provided a free coach for the day, Screwfix, who gave a discount on kit, and Goodrows, who gave us a discount on tools. We couldn’t have done it without you.
“Looking forward, Seaford College is always looking for new partnerships. If anybody would like to be considered for next year’s event please contact me, firstname.lastname@example.org.”
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