A summer of Essex ActivAte

Active Essex

What an incredible summer Essex ActivAte had this year! With 170 clubs and 100,000 sessions over just the summer alone, Active Essex worked with local providers to ensure support was available for as many families and young people as possible.

The Holiday Activity and Food programme, Essex ActivAte, is run by Active Essex and Essex County Council on behalf of the Department for Education. The Essex ActivAte programme aims to support the physical and mental wellbeing of primary and secondary school children, by providing a safe environment for children to enjoy a range of different activities and a nutritious meal. Essex County Council also extended the offer to low income working families who require additional support during the school holidays. Furthermore, families are also able to access extra support online, and keep children active from the comfort of their own home.

Take a look at the impact across our summer programme here.

Across the county, Active Essex worked with over 100 local organisations to develop the summer offer and ensure there was an activity for everyone. The clubs included a range of multisport, mental health and well-being workshops, as well as enrichment activities. In return, we were able to teach children the benefits of physical activity, whilst supporting their mental wellbeing in different relaxed surroundings. Some of the amazing physical activity clubs we were able to offer this summer included kayaking and canoeing at Grangewaters in Thurrock, football fun with Colchester Utd, multisport with Essex Boys & Girls Clubs in Chelmsford, and so much more. Whilst these clubs teach young children the benefits of being outdoors, they also ensure that the recommended 60-minutes of physical activity a day is being achieved.

One parent told us – “Child and Provide (FC Clacton), we loved this place for the range of activities but especially as he got to engage in lots of football activities provided by professional FC coaches. He made lots of new friends and asked to go on more sessions also enjoyed the hot meals.”

It’s crucial that young children today are interacting with others as much as possible, therefore attending the clubs are a great way of allowing them to meet new friends, enjoy social interaction and learn new skills. Getting involved with new experiences not only helps young children’s confidence and courage, but also improves their mental wellbeing and can make them feel empowered to continue to try new activities.

One of our partners told us – Children were happy, and they have many opportunities to make new friends, to feel proud of their achievements. Our activities included exercise session, enrichment activity and healthy eating workshop. These have supported children’s cognitive development, physical skills, health and well-being; build their confidence and social skills.”

We understand that parents may want their children to attend a club for many different reasons, therefore we wanted to offer a range of activities to suit all children’s wants and needs. Abberton Rural in Maldon offer a great club educating young people about the outdoors. It teaches them key skills about how to be more sustainable at home by growing your own fruit and vegetables, as well as learning about the environment and what we can do to be more sustainable. Arts and crafts have also been popular this summer, with The Messy Club in Harlow providing messy, sensory fun workshops exploring the arts in science experiments and face painting.

As well as clubs for young children, Essex ActivAte also hosted a range of mini, mental wellbeing festivals for all the family to enjoy. The Brentwood Mini Mental Wellbeing Festival, hosted by Brentwood Council, was a fantastic family fun day, allowing children to activate their mind and body. Local Active Essex providers such as Chat 1st and Relax Kids supplied different activities such as drawing, bean bag tossing, Lego building and breathing techniques to support children’s mental and emotional wellbeing.

To make sure we could offer the Essex ActivAte summer programme to as many young children as possible, we recognised and provided different activities needed to give families extra support. This was carried out through our SEND hub, which allowed children the space and time to just enjoy outdoor surroundings and be themselves. Providing a nutritious meal for each child educated them on new, healthy food groups as they were able to try different meals and discover the importance of a balanced diet. Families currently might be feeling the pinch, therefore by providing meals during the club, we were able to give them that extra support they needed and support their mental wellbeing. Not only did the clubs allow children to relax, but it also gave parents that vital quality time they may need for themselves. Whether it was to work, socialise or take some downtime, parents also appreciated the extra support given.

Another parent told us – “My child has additional needs, this club is the one club she enjoys doing and looks forward to, everyone is aware of her needs and meets them with dignity and respect. They meet her social and sensory issues in a way no one else does, we are lost without it.”

Essex Activate continues to support young children and families outside of our holiday activity and food programme. Our online #FindYourActive support page allows you to find the right activity for you and the family. Whether it be exploring local greenspaces, looking for nearby sports clubs, or using our #FindYourActive YouTube channel, there’s something for everyone. Free activity packs for young people to enjoy and be creative in the comfort of their own home are also available to download on our website.

Read more about the Essex ActivAte programme here.