Leamore Park, Bloxwich
A story-telling garden where children can discover Jesus
In an area marked by poverty, a special discovery and story-telling garden has been created especially for little ones. Here, they can immerse themselves in nature, play, explore friendships – and the Christian faith.
“Bloxwich in Wallsall, West Midlands has high levels of anti-social behaviour and high crime rates,” says Vickie Heydon-Matterface, the creator of the garden and Methodist Pioneer for the Brownhills and Willenhall Circuit. “Many families here don't have a garden at home and even the local primary school doesn’t have any green spaces within its grounds.”
Flowers, fruit and a bug hotel
So, it was a real blessing when a disused garden close to a local infant school and two junior schools was discovered in 2016. The following year, work began on the vision of turning this space into a haven for the children of the community.
The project was a real team effort: community members and church members donated plants and paint, the local council and volunteers cleared the site, and the Mission in Britain Fund awarded a grant of £39,000 to turn this vision into reality.
“The result is a magical garden where children can plant herbs and flower bulbs, take part in treasure hunts and craft activities and explore the different paths with delights such as a ‘bug hotel’, a lavender wall and juicy fruit trees,” Vickie explains.
Interactive Bible stories
Drawing from insights from Open the Book and Godly Play models, Bible stories are shared with children in fun and interactive ways. At Christmas, children can meet nativity characters dressed up in costumes from Jesus’ times inside a special tent. At Easter, young ones are led on discovery trails where they can find out more about the Crucifixion on top of the garden’s hill and then climb into a willow ‘cave’ to learn all about the Resurrection.
The prayer of the Circuit is that – just like the flowers, plants and trees in the story-telling garden – local children will continue to grow and flourish through the project.
Watch the short video below to find out more about Leamore Park!