Blake Cutler, 16 yrs, NSW

Every Wednesday afternoon 16 year old Blake Cutler and his friends make sure they are on time for their community gardening session at the Bellingen High School, NSW. Why? Because they start the session with a nap and they don’t want to miss it!

I have heaps of stuff to do at school with lots of responsibility so am often running around a lot. I arrive stressed, hot and with my mind overworking. We lie down for a quick nap in the garden. It’s wonderful lying on the lawn, under the sun, reconnecting with nature and myself. I feel so much happier afterwards. I have more energy on Wednesday afternoons than any other afternoon. When I first heard about it from Olivia, the community gardens co-ordinator, I was sceptical. Then I tried it and I could completely understand why we do it

– it’s not just a bit of bludge. It re-energises you and keeps you going”
His advice about how to get more teens napping? Just get them to try it.

Olivia Bernadini, co-ordinator of the students involvement with the community gardens explains why she introduced a short nap at the start of their working bee:

I have noticed that the teenagers I work with are often quite stressed and also very tired. I get them to nap in order for them to experience directly the beneficial effects of taking a few minutes break and to get them out of the classroom ‘headspace’ – which is controlled, enclosed and linear – and into the garden – cyclical, nurturing and spacious. 

I guide them through a few minutes of relaxation (awareness of the breath and body sensation), then allow them to nap for 5 to 10 minutes. Although it is very short, most of them seem to really enjoy it. Relaxing and napping seems to calm the collective energy and it becomes easier for me to engage with the students.