Shoppers at Tesco stores across the Borough of Barnet have the chance to vote for the woodland area being created at the Pavilion Study Centre in Meadway, High Barnet.
Teachers, volunteers and neighbours have spent the last five months transforming a neglected and rubbish-strewn stretch of woodland into a quiet and secluded area for a range of outdoor activities.
If Tesco shoppers give their backing, and the centre can gain the extra funding, the woodland will be fitted out with a fitness trail that includes equipment such as parallel bars and wooden frames, flower and vegetable beds, and a new outdoor classroom.
The Pavilion Centre, which provides schooling for up to 50 children from across the borough who cannot cope with mainstream education, has already been awarded £8,000 from the Helping Hands initiative, and if Tesco shoppers vote for the woodland project during the week starting Friday 27 February, the award could be increased to £12,000.
Lesley Graham, the woodland project manager, said the centre had been so encouraged by the £8,000 award, and were even more excited by the chance that it might reach as much as £12,000.
The importance of outdoor activities for vulnerable children was emphasised by the centre’s assistant head teacher Kevin Mathews. Practical and physical education was especially important for youngsters who cannot manage mainstream schooling.
A woodland expert from Capel Manor College has been helping with the teaching of survival skills, such a lighting camp fires.
“Lighting a fire and cooking food are just the kind of activities that really appeal to these youngsters, and they get more enthusiastic at the thought of building a den or living in the woods.”
Deputy head Kim Price was confident that a fitness trail in the woodland would prove a real attraction. “We could have parallel bars, monkey bars and other wooden frames – just the sort of activities that help such children.”
Another facility planned by the centre is a covered outdoor teaching area. “An outdoor mentoring space, rather than a room in the school, would be so beneficial for children with acute anxiety and attention deficit,” said Ms Price.
Students from the centre ran a stall at the Barnet Christmas fair that raised £180, just one of the money-raising ideas to help promote the restoration of the woodland area.