05/09/2021 - Summer Fun for Weston Kids
Children from Weston primary schools are enjoying a range of activities during the school summer holidays, organised and run by local education support business, Elementa.
The project aims to give children a positive transition from one academic year to the next, with all the children taking part nominated by Weston-super-Mare primary schools.
Sarah Morrison, founder and managing director of Elementa who devised the scheme, said: “This is an idea we had during the early days of the pandemic which aims at helping children who, for various reasons, have had a tougher ride than others during the past 18 months, and although we weren’t able to deliver last year we’re really proud we’ve been able to proceed this summer.
“By offering the nominated youngsters new and different experiences on this summer-long programme, we wanted to help develop their confidence and show how they can achieve more than they thought, and it has been incredibly rewarding to see the transformation in their confidence and behaviour over the summer.
“We also hope their recent experiences will smooth the transition on their imminent return to school.”
The project focused on healthy activities - promoting exercise, healthy food and looking after yourself - and was part-funded by the Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme, supported and facilitated by North Somerset Council.
Many of the excursions needed transport to take everyone to the locations, which was made possible with the support of South West based travel company Bakers Dolphin who, according to Sarah Morrison, “….have been hugely supportive and responded flexibly to our changing needs.”
Amanda Harrington, sales and marketing director of the coach operator, said: “This is such an invaluable initiative on the part of Elementa, and we’ve been really pleased to be involved. It’s been great to see how much the children have enjoyed their outings.”
Activities included fun educational sessions focusing on preparing your own food as well as learning where food comes from, with visits to Windmill Hill City Farm, Court Farm and Redcatch Community Garden helping deepen the youngsters’ understanding of how a range of fruit and vegetables are grown, as well as the raising of animals and production of milk and eggs.
These visits were followed by shopping trips when the youngsters were sent out with a list of food to purchase. The process of grocery shopping, successfully following a list and spending money with local businesses gave the children a real-life experience, with local businesses such as Gardners Fruits helping the children choose their vegetable purchases.
After the shopping trips, the children and their families went on to prepare either a veggie pizza or a pasta bake, taking them through the whole process from plot to plate.
Other outdoor focussed activities included paddle boarding, Art Attack creations on the beach and a visit to Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm to see some larger animals.
Parental feedback has been very positive, with comments like: “It’s made our son more confident about being with other people and made him feel that he can do things that before this he would not want to try. Also, he has learnt a few life skills already, such as grocery shopping and cooking which he loved.”
Other benefits noted have included: “There has also been an improvement in quality family time through the youngsters being active, having less time playing video games… as well as improvements in behaviour, tolerance of others and sleeping so well from being kept busy.”
Numerous parents reported “participating in this has helped with their confidence and social skills”… through a combination of “being active, mingling with other children and making new friends.”
Another said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody involved as my sons have very much enjoyed all the activities. The staff are a credit to themselves as it’s a well-run operation, again many thanks.”
Elementa have expressed their appreciation for the support of North Somerset Council, who facilitated the part-funding of the summer scheme using the Government HAF programme.
Further information on Elementa here: www.elementa.org.uk and on Bakers Dolphin here: www.bakersdolphin.com