During the summer holidays, Blackpool families had access to activities and healthy food at five areas in the town.
As school holidays can be a challenging time for families, especially for those who rely on free school meals, the Blackpool Opportunity Area funded free activities and food for local children and young people.
Evidence suggests that attending extracurricular activities can have a positive impact on children’s educational, health and wellbeing outcomes. Co-ordinated by the Public Health team at Blackpool Council, the pilot scheme aimed to help families access these opportunities during the summer holidays.
The summer programme was on offer at Claremont, Revoe, Mereside and Talbot and Brunswick children’s centres, as well as the community hub for Grange Park, @theGrange.
Working with partners ranging from Sport Blackpool, Blackpool FC Community Trust and the youth facility, the Magic Club, and many more, children and their families had the opportunity to socialise, get active together, and learn new skills as well as having access to healthy and nutritious food.
The project was aimed at five of the most deprived areas in Blackpool in a bid to target children and young people that are disadvantaged, and vulnerable to exclusion and absence.
The sessions were well attended and feedback suggests that families enjoyed taking part in the range of activities which included sport, dance, arts, crafts and drama.
The five areas offered the same programme of activities, whereas the Boat House provided a bespoke programme which consisted of residential experiences.
A group of 30 youngsters from the Boat House took part in a street dance project during the summer, which focused on some of the issues facing young people in Blackpool. These included homelessness, child exploitation, crime and gang culture
Through dance, song and visual theatre, the young people (some of whom were funded from the OA) were able to experience the consequences of these issues as well as learn how to recognise the signs and find alternatives.
Another group of young people from the Boathouse enjoyed a series of day trips and activities throughout the summer. Part funded by the OA, the group visited Sandcastle Waterpark, the Blackpool Tower Circus and the Adventure Dock in Liverpool.
The youngsters faced their fears of water and heights. One of the young participants, Josh, has a phobia of water. Whilst at the Adventure Dock he fell in and panicked. After being helped out by staff, he carried on enjoying himself – so much so that he decided to jump in from the 15ft diving platform into the water.
He said: “When I first fell in I was really scared but the leaders helped me realise that there was nothing to be frightened of because I had my buoyancy aid on. I fell in a few more times before I did the jump and that boosted my confidence.
“Then, there I was at the top of the diving platform with all my friends jumping in and egging me on to do the same. I just did it and loved it.”