Thursday, 13 September 2012

'The bestest time ever'

Never mind the Olympics and Diamond Jubilee, Children North East put on our own summer of fun and sports for families who would otherwise have had no outings, no holidays, no family fun times or happy memories of the summer of 2012; such as families living in temporary accommodation for homeless people.
Torrential rain didn't dampen our Jubilee tea party, the children had spent weeks preparing - painting a giant union flag and making metres of paper chains and bunting. There was a typical British 'afternoon tea' including red, white and blue cup cakes and cucumber sandwiches. The younger children enjoyed having their faces painted by the older ones and everyone joined in traditional games of hopscotch, 'in and out the dusty bluebells' and our home made 'pin the ears on the corgi'!

Newcastle temporary accommodation is in the shadow of St. James's Park (Sports Direct Arena) football stadium, you can hear the roar of the crowds but few children ever get to see inside. We were given tickets for the men and women's Olympic matches, fabulous once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, 'the women were really good at football, it was a great day, my little brother enjoyed it too especially when everyone was shouting and cheering. We have been part of the Olympics!'

Our own Mini Olympics took place in beautiful sunshine. We hung flags, lanterns and balloons outside. The afternoon started with the children carrying their own home made Olympic torches in procession followed by sack races, egg and spoon, three-legged race and the 50 metre sprint for older children. Excited children called 'Can we do it again!' until everyone was worn out. The afternoon ended with a family game of rounders and a picnic lunch.

The City Council commissions Children North East to 'deliver' certain outcomes for families, for example improved daily routines; parents better able to set and keep to boundaries and manage behaviour to get children to schools on time; safer homes where children can play and grow. Of course we do all that very effectively but they don't sound much fun. Raising children well can be hard work but it should never be no fun, family life should be enjoyable for parents as much as children, these summer activities are part of how we help families to play, have new experiences and create lasting memories.

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