Project Purple runs every Tuesday during term time after school and students are involved with making raised planters, log benches, picnic tables, football goals and also involves a weekly litter pick. Alongside these activities, a video is produced by each of the students about Project Purple.
Project Purple started in 2014 as the result of a regular Hang10 youth session held at Cressfield, South Ashford. Many of the children that were regularly attending this session were pupils of Ashford Oaks Primary School who were going into school and telling teachers of a new provision called Hang10. As the relationships with the young people deepened a relationship naturally developed into Ashford Oaks Primary school with Hang10 staff helping at sports days and other school events.
It became clear that there was an opportunity to come up with a joint project working with year 6 students to engage them in their local community in a positive way before they transitioned into year 7. After initial meetings with Ashford Oaks Primary School and Ashford Borough Council a plot of land between Brookfield Road and Crownfield Road was made available by Ashford Borough Council for the year 6 students to transform into more purposefully used open space. Our hope is that by teaching them the value of community and how it benefits them as an individual through a practical project they are less likely to engage in anti-social behaviour and make good decisions once the pressures of transitioning into year 7 hit.
Year 6 students were heavily involved from the beginning coming up with the project title, logo (above) and ideas for how they wanted the project to look and we were up and running in October 2014. Each year 6 student is expected to attend at least 3 sessions and after their third session they receive a Project Purple T-shirt kindly donated by Ashford Borough Council.
Project Purple has been a real success since it started with students engaging in an extremely positive way as they saw the impact they were having in a community in a real way, and they are not shy to express how they feel;
“Project Purple helps keep me out of trouble and I can improve where I live”
“Project Purple helps me realise how important the environment is”
“Project Purple helps to make us feel proud of where we live”
In 2015, the project was entered for the Kent Housing Groups Excellence Award which resulted in the project winning the Excellent Community Project Category. The success made the local paper, and residents around Crownfield have responded in a hugely positive way actively encouraging the year 6s in their endeavours.
The team hope to be able to replicate and expand the project to incorporate other schools in the South Ashford area.