Jamie's Farm - Life Swap Experience
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12 students from Sheffield Park Academy have just returned from their weeklong life swap at Jamie’s Farm in Hereford. Jamie’s Farm offers a unique programme where students from inner city schools are immersed into farm life during a weeklong residential, tackling real jobs with tangible outcomes, within a supportive family environment helping to encourage cooperation, boost self-esteem, build positive relationships and help to improve young people’s mental wellbeing, behaviour, and engagement by building life skills.
Students traded in their phones, game consoles and sugary diet for a week of healthy, homemade, and where possible home-grown food as well as living and working on the farm. The life swap experiment was to see how changing some factors can impact on how they feel and act and to establish new identities and levels of independence.
As pleasant and idyllic as Jamie’s Farm in Hereford is, it is a week packed full of hard work on the farm. Everyday students are active from 7.30am until 9pm completing a variety of physically challenging farm jobs and going on daily walks in the beautiful countryside. During the week students took part in an array of farm jobs from feeding the pigs, milking the cow, cleaning out animal living areas, weighing, and trimming the sheep, chopping wood, tending to the vegetable garden, carrying out farm maintenance, working with the horses as well as picking the home-grown fruit and vegetables and cooking 2 healthy and nutritious meals per day.
Each day students also put on their wellies and waterproofs and off they went on their daily walks in the idyllic countryside. Each day the walks got longer and harder and by the end of the week on Thursday students tackled Hatterall Hill which was one of the more challenging walks for some, but they all supported one another to ensure everyone made it to the top to take in the fantastic views of the countryside.
Finally, we have to say a huge thankyou to all the staff at Jamie’s Farm Hereford, for creating such a calming and supportive environment, allowing our students to thrive and flourish. This allowed students to explore their thoughts and feelings on a daily basis, providing them with the opportunity to ‘check in’ and provide ‘shout outs’ to their peers. The staff modelled this by providing regular positive feedback to all the children.
Sarah Wesley, Head of Year 8 and Teacher at Sheffield Park Academy, said:
“I have been extremely fortunate to spend the last week with these 12 wonderful students. Over the last week, I’ve seen these young people make a huge transformation and it’s been an absolute pleasure to be a part of it and witness first had the impact Jamie’s Farm has had on each and every one of them. I have been impressed with the way they have conducted themselves throughout the week, how they have taken on all challenges provided and the way they have reflected on their experience here and worked out for themselves behaviour changes and coping mechanisms that they will take back into their normal lives.”