‘Worry Tree’ and Fairy Garden launched at St Columb’s Park House

“Whisper your worries, share how you feel. Let nature’s magic help your heart heal”

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 11:29 am

A very special tree at St Columb’s Park House is helping to ease the worries of children and young people throughout Derry.

The weeping willow tree in St Columb’s Park House is a magical space that allows you to leave your worries and wishes behind.

It’s a strong, wise tree that has stood in St Columb’s Park House for a number of years and sees many a daily visitor of the human and non-human kind.

Robins, Wrens, Blue-tits, Sparrows, Blackbirds and many others add a soundscape of bird song to the peaceful area and offer a space for children to find some calm and connect with nature.

In recent years, several studies have measured the benefits1 of spending time in nature, and the importance of children developing a connection with nature through play.

The evidence shows that outdoor education and play improves emotional and social resilience in children and that it facilitates developmental outcomes as well as cognitive and social development.

Playing outside helps children feel a sense of belonging and improves their health and happiness, so it makes sense then, that The Worry Tree is situated in the grounds of St Columb’s Park House- a place of natural beauty, situated in the heart of the city!

The idea came to life after a local parent contacted St Columb’s Park House with a desire to support her children’s wellbeing.

Danielle Ross, from Caw, recognised a worrying gap in provision for children and young people in relation to their mental health and wanted to create a physical space where her children could visit to let go of their worries and find some peace.

“A worry is something that we hold, but when we give it away it’s not ours anymore!

“I think the Worry Tree is a really important way of breaking the stigma attached to mental health. As a parent, I want to nurture and protect my children and the only way to do that is to talk about mental health and help them see that we all experience different feelings and that every feeling is valid.

“Given the uncertainty of the last year, I think it’s more important than ever to create spaces to talk about mental health. The response to the idea has been amazing,” she said.

Transition with Nature coordinator, Donna McFeely said: “St Columb’s Park House is passionate and committed to Peace; peace within, peace with others and peace with nature.

“Our Transition with Nature project, funded by Children in Need, is an outdoor education and play project for children and young people aged between four and 18, that aims to foster a deep connection with nature, and provide spaces for play and learning.

“Working with Danielle and her children on the Worry Tree and Fairy Garden has been great, they should be so proud that they have inspired a space that everyone can use for healing and wellbeing!”

As we begin to welcome Fairies into their new homes in the park and wooded areas, we would ask people to be mindful of all the animals that call St Columb’s Park their home.

Please feel free to bring an offering for the fairies, but please remember that sometimes birds, squirrels, hedgehogs, rabbits, and insects might find the gift before the fairies do, and it’s our job to protect them and their habitats.

The wildlife and the fairies love natural offerings and gifts that are plastic-free.