Monday 26th July saw children across Essex get stuck in with the first day of clubs, taking part in an array of physical and enrichment activities, and enjoying nutritious food!
Working alongside trusted local delivery partners, Active Essex, Essex County Council and Thurrock Council are delivering the Government’s Holiday Activities and Food programme across Essex this summer. The programme, known as Essex ActivAte, includes face to face clubs, enabling children and young people to enjoy activities with friends and develop new skills, in a fun and safe environment.
Backed by a nationwide investment from the Department for Education, of up to £220 million, the programme provides vital support to those who are eligible for benefits based free school meals, across all 12 districts and Thurrock. In addition, Essex County Council have extended the offer to open up a number of spaces within clubs to children and young people from working families who are struggling financially and require this additional support. The Essex ActivAte team are working with over 85 partners to deliver over 200 clubs and 130 outreach sessions, providing over 200,000 FREE spaces over 5 weeks of the summer holiday.
On Monday clubs across Essex kicked off, delivering a mixture of sports, creative and nature-based activities for children and young people. This summer providers have pulled out all the stops, not only providing classic team sports and fun arts and craft sessions, but also several unique activities which children may not otherwise have the chance to take part in. These include both inflatable and muddy obstacle courses, climbing sessions, developing outdoor survival skills, alternative music sessions, bath bomb creation, giant inflatable darts games, and even spending time with farm animals / exotic species! Plus, we also have a number of clubs running in green spaces and rural locations, where children can become explorers, spot wildlife and learn about climate change.
Active Essex are ensuring that every club is inclusive; providing training for a SEND ambassador and Mental Wellbeing ambassador at each venue. Beyond this Active Essex also recognise that some children need additional support or a calmer environment, and as such they are running specialised SEND and Mental Wellbeing Hubs across the county! SEND hubs will feature specialist coaches, a higher ratio of staff to children and a variety of inclusive activities. Mental Wellbeing Hubs will feature shorter sessions, in smaller groups, with attention paid to coping mechanisms and a gentle approach to community engagement.
After joining in with our launch video earlier this month, Councillor Louise McKinlay (Essex County Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Communities, Partnerships, Equality & Performance) and Anton Ferdinand (former professional football player and Active Essex Board Member), along with Active Essex Director Jason Fergus, joined the Achieve Thrive Flourish (ATF) team at Briscoe Primary School in Basildon to see their club in action. The day was jam packed with a huge variety of activities, including pony riding, basketball, boxing, Nerf Gun games, crafts, football, dodgeball and an exciting scavenger hunt. Plus, the children also got to meet some of their favourite characters, including Trolls, Iron Man, Mickey Mouse and Mini Mouse. They also enjoyed a visit from Essex Library Services, which enabled children to take some time out and join in with Storytime sessions and find out about all the support available through their local library.
The ATF team have been working with communities and young people since 2012, particularly in South Essex. Their Essex ActivAte clubs run from 10am-2pm, providing a fun and safe environment for approximately 150 children every week day. In fact, their support is so vital and clubs so popular that they started their club at Briscoe a week early, alongside a number of other Essex ActivAte clubs. Spaces at Briscoe are already fully booked for the summer, however there are still spaces available at other ATF clubs across the South.
Councillor Louise McKinlay (Essex County Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Communities, Partnerships, Equality & Performance) said: “[The programme] is so important particularly given all that’s gone on this past year. We know that children have obviously not been in school as much, they’ve not had the opportunity to socialise and to develop, and this [programme] means that during the long holidays they can come together and really engage in positive activities”.
Anton Ferdinand (former professional football player and Active Essex Board Member), said: “It’s great that we’re targeting children as it’s giving them the foundation to a happy and healthier life. As people we aren’t born to stand about, we’re born to be active, and [this programme] encourages people to stay active mentally and physically”.
Check out some of the photos from club…
Alongside face to face clubs, Active Essex are also providing a fun-filled virtual offer, to help children and young people come up with inventive ways to have fun and get active at home throughout the school holidays, all without cost! These resources include downloadable activity packs and hours of content available on YouTube. Families should head to the Essex ActivAte family support page to get started.
There are still spaces available at clubs across the county. If your child(ren) are eligible and would benefit from this support, visit the summer booking page to find out more.