This summer, Leeds Rhinos Foundation has teamed up with New Wortley Community Association and Leeds Community Foundation to support the Healthy Holidays Programme in a mission to tackle holiday hunger and provide provision for children in the areas of greatest need.
The Healthy Holidays programme has been running since 2018 and provides children aged 6-12 with access to fun and engaging activities, as well as the chance to make friends and develop new skills during the school holidays. The programme also helps to ease the extra pressure some families are under during this time by ensuring every child receives a free hot meal or packed lunch too.
A variety of physical activities will be delivered by staff from Leeds Rhinos Foundation across the first two weeks of the programme at New Wortley Community Centre, which is a shining light in one of the city’s most deprived areas.
James Gray, Healthy Holidays Coordinator at New Wortley Community Centre said: “This programme was launched in 2018 as a way of making sure that potentially vulnerable children had access to free healthy meals during the school holidays, once free school meals were no longer available.
“We’ve extended the Healthy Holidays offer since then by working alongside multiple partner organisations, such as Leeds Rhinos Foundation, to provide all kinds of fun physical and creative activities, learning and support for families.
“For the first two weeks of this summer the Rhinos Foundation coaches have joined us to deliver outdoor sports sessions and the children have really been enjoying themselves. Alongside this we’ve been giving out boredom-busting Summer Holiday Activity Kits which have been put together by the Leeds Community Foundation and ensuring every child is given the chance to receive a free hot meal or packed lunch at New Wortley Community Centre.
“The one thing you’ll notice around this area, and many deprived areas of Leeds in particular, is that children often play unaccompanied, usually as parents aren’t able to provide childcare cover. So this provides a safe space for them to come down and be facilitated with fun activities, as well as a great opportunity to meet other children and get well fed.
“A lot of these kids will have worked with Leeds Rhinos Foundation coaches in their school so they know the coaches and what to expect from their games which always prove to be a lot of fun.”
11-year-old Ezekiel who is attending this week’s Health Holidays camp with Leeds Rhinos Foundation described his experience so far as ‘great fun.’
He said: “We’ve being doing a lot of different sports games and ball activities which has helped us build up our teamworking skills and given us some exciting challenges, like with the ‘floor is lava’ game we played yesterday.
“It’s been a really fun experience and I’ve enjoyed getting to know the other people here, plus the coaches from Leeds Rhinos who have been really friendly and made sure we can all be involved.
“If I wasn’t here I might be stuck at home sat on my video games, so it’s definitely benefitted me that I can come here to be playing and having fun with my friends.”
Spaces are still available for the upcoming Healthy Holidays Camps at New Wortley Community Centre, with a full timetable available below.
If you are interested in booking onto the activities, or for more information, please contact the Healthy Holidays Coordinator James Gray on 07933 873840.
For more information visit https://www.facebook.com/NewWortleyCC.