THE not-for-profit social enterprise Grow It Yourself (GIY) is aiming to raise €1 million in order to deliver the food education and mental health programme GROW At School in primary schools across the country for the academic year 2023/24.
‘GROW At School’ was first rolled out by GIY as a four-year-long pilot programme project across 32 schools in Ireland which was completed in June 2021.
The programme was a huge success and the feedback from the schools and teachers who participated was captured in a research report and it was ALL overwhelmingly positive.
In the summer of 2022, GIY made a submission to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Education, Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, proposing GROW at School be implemented and supported as a national food growing programme under the Programme for Government, and was invited to represent the GROW at School programme at a Committee session on Mental Health Supports in Schools and Tertiary Education. Michael Kelly made this presentation and submission last autumn.
In delivering oral evidence to the committee, on 22 November 2022, Mr Michael Kelly, CEO, and founder of Grow It Yourself Ireland (GIY Ireland), noted that “food growing is a great leveller for children of all abilities and ages.”
The Oireachtas committee have recommended, “The Primary and Post Primary Curriculum should be reviewed to: Identify suitable Co-Curricular Programmes for inclusion such as those delivered by Grow it Yourself (GIY).” As of yet, the programme has not been funded by the government – however, GIY went on to raise almost over €300,000 so far this year through philanthropic support from individuals and foundations, and from corporate donors and individual philanthropic support and is currently delivering GROW At School to 134 primary schools across Ireland this year.
In September 2023 they aim to include an additional 500 schools in the Programme, with a further 1,000 schools in 2024 – aiming to grow towards embedding food growing over 50% of all Primary schools in Ireland in the future. For the 2023 initiative, they need to raise €1 million and for 2024 €2 million.
Speaking about the interest from schools for participation in the programme Nell Ward, Director of Development at GIY says: “At present it’s incredible that more than 600 primary schools have registered their interest in joining the programme.
This reflects the huge interest amongst teachers in actively participating in environmental action, and the impact of the programme even beyond food growing.”
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