This is the fourth of a multi-part series.
Source: Rotary Down Under, regional magazine of Australia, March 2020
Awareness: Live Life Mindfully
“Learning how to be still, to really be still and let life happen –that stillness becomes a radiance.” --Morgan Freeman
Have you ever felt there must be more to life? Well good news, there is! And it’s right here in front of us. We just need to stop and take notice. Learning to be more mindful and aware does wonders for our wellbeing, whether it’s on our walk to work, the way we eat, or in our relationships. It helps us get in tune with our feelings and stops us dwelling on the past or worrying about the future – so we get more out of the day-to-day.
Happiness Blooms from Children’s Garden Project
By Kylie Hatfield
WHEN the [Australian] Sunshine South Cluster Group of Rotary clubs asked their local Sunshine Coast community what was needed, they took up the challenge to build a therapeutic outdoor environment for the young people and children living in foster care at the Integrated Family and Youth Services (IFYS) crisis care home in Landsborough. The Rotary Garden Project began in 2017 with the Rotary Clubs of Alexandra Headland, Mooloolaba, Buderim, Maroochydore, Sunshine Coast Central and Caloundra seeking out a community project that would make a significant difference. These clubs, along with the recently closed Rotary Club of Kawana and the Rotary Club of Caloundra Pacific, collaborate to make up the Sunshine South Cluster Group.
[Please insert Garden Photo 1 with this caption: The garden at the Integrated Family and Youth Services crisis care home in Landsborough includes a new pergola, decking, barbecue, pathways, teenage retreat/cubby house, basketball court, seating area, drainage, raised garden beds and plants.]
Errol Richardson is a member of the Rotary Club of Alexandra Headland and was the chairman for the Rotary Garden Project, which took 18 months to complete and was unveiled in July 2019. “The participating Rotary clubs contributed approximately $15,000 [Australian]. We received grants from the Sunshine Coast councillor for the area, the Community Benefit Fund and a District Matching Grant totaling approximately $18,500. The remainder of the funding came from donations and sponsorships,” said Errol.
It then took a team of Rotarians and friends of Rotary to design, build and install the new pergola, decking, barbecue, pathways, teenage retreat/cubby house, basketball court, seating area, drainage, raised garden beds and plants.
The garden and play areas were designed to help the children in foster care learn new skills, have fun through play and develop self-confidence by spending time in the garden tending to plants and growing their own food.
The IFYS Landsborough House provides a secure and supportive environment for children and young people who are unable to live in a family-based placement due to complex support needs, including mental health or disability related issues. Prior to the project, the facility’s garden was bare and waterlogged, leaving the children with nowhere to play outdoors, resulting in highly stressful situations.
“Sometimes, when a young person gets agitated, it can be really helpful for them to go to a quiet space and have some time to themselves,” said Tony Pignata, Managing Director of IFYS. “The children now have that space; they can remove themselves from the house and get a different outlook in the gardens and still remain safe. “In addition to that, these kids saw their community coming together to do something for them, which has a significant positive impact.”
[Please Insert Garden Photo 2 - no caption]
The project received the Brett Mitchell Memorial TRF district grants award and was deemed successful, not just from the impact the garden has had on the children at IFYS Landsborough House, but also by what it has meant for the Rotary clubs involved.
John Malloy, member of the Rotary Club of Alexandra Headland and secretary of Rotary Garden Project, described the project as one that showed the true power of Rotary in making connections, really making a difference and leaving a legacy for generations. “It has been beneficial in raising Rotary’s profile and bringing the handful of Rotary clubs on the Sunshine Coast together. By doing this type of project, involving many different skills and supporters, the cluster was also able to connect with many like-minded community people
outside Rotary,” John said.
The cluster is now looking for its next big project that will bring the clubs together to connect and make a difference to the community.