Young people at special school urging Sunderland people to dig deep for them

Portland Academy students and staff appealing for businesses to help them create an outside common room.
Portland Academy students and staff appealing for businesses to help them create an outside common room.

A group of young people at a Sunderland school are urging people to dig deep to help them.

The sixth form students at Portland Academy are hoping to create an outdoor garden area within the grounds.

This would give the area much more of a college feel

Ben Atkinson

The teenagers at the academy, which caters for children and young people with special needs, want to create their own independent outdoor area where they can relax.

Ben Atkinson, a sixth form support worker at the Weymouth Road school, said the young people are very excited about the project, but need to get businesses and members of the public on board to help them.

He said: “There is an open space outside, which is not being used and the young people want to develop it into an allotment and outdoor area.

“They want to start growing their own produce so we can have a small market garden and they can sell their fruit and veg.

“At the moment it is just an empty area, but they have plans to completely transform it.”

Ben explained the piece of land at the Chapelgarth school is outside where the sixth form common room is, which means it would give these college students, aged 16-19, a complete area of their own, set apart from the younger children.

He said: “At the moment the common room has no access to the outdoors, but we hope to swap one of the windows for a door. This would give the area much more of a college feel and the young people can have their own break area.

“We also hope to bring the common room more up to date and more age appropriate for the older teens.

“They need their own space.”

Ben said the project is quite ambitious and the young people have a vision for what they want.

He said: “As well as a social enterprise garden, they want it to be a space to relax as well, with picnic benches and things like that.”

The school is hoping people will come on board and donate items, such as tools and sheds, they are also looking for railway sleepers to make raised beds.

If anyone can help out with items they should contact Ben at the school on 0191 553 6050.