We are delighted to share a blog written by student Samira, from Al Maha Academy for Girls, Qatar, delivering a Global Goals project for the 2020-21 GSL Global Goals Competition.
Their project is among over 957 social action projects currently running as part of the GSL movement and we are excited to be supporting them to design and lead positive social change in their community.
Our Project is called Gardens for Change and we have chosen to base our project on wellbeing and good health and the environment. As students we realized the effects that the pandemic had on our wellbeing. We were not getting out and doing social activities as we used to, we were not seeing our friends as we used to and at school we were confined to bubbles which avoided mixing. We feel this had a real impact on our mental wellbeing. In our community we identified that due to the hot climate we live in, gardens and nature are not utilised for wellbeing and people speak little about what they are feeling. Therefore, we decided to start this within our school for student wellbeing and the community and expand our work over time.
The impact of the pandemic is our personal experience and after seeing our peers suffer from COVID we decided action had to be taken to support students. We also found that mental wellbeing is something that is not spoken about much in our community and were passionate about promoting this and care of our environment at the same time.
Therefore, our project aimed to create wellbeing gardens for change – to inform to educate. We chose to create a mini quranic botanical garden in our school. This will have plants mentioned in the quran. We found that by incorporating our countries religious values into nature we could raise in an interest in the local community through parents of students. We also realised that creating wellbeing gardens was the perfect escape for us students to connect with nature and take time out.
As part of our journey to create gardens for wellbeing we learnt that being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. It may even reduce mortality, according to scientists such as public health researchers Stamatakis and Mitchell.
We also have learnt how to work as a group and about plants mentioned in the quran used for medicinal and therapeutic purposes.
Our Next Chapter
We want to create a platform for all students in Qatar and globally to create gardens and nature for wellbeing. To create a space where they can disconnect from stress and take time out in this difficult time we are having.
The 2020-21 GSL Global Goals Competition is now open and runs until June 2021. If you belong to one of the 500+ teams of students currently delivering a social action project as part of the competition we would love to hear from you and feature your blog and project photos on our website to inspire others.