How a Wakefield holiday club is empowering children by putting them in charge of activities

The club meets on Wednesdays during school holidays at Hall Green Community Centre.
The club meets on Wednesdays during school holidays at Hall Green Community Centre.

The October half-term holidays can be a bane for parents, with grim weather sabotaging outdoor activities and the prospect of Christmas shopping tightening the purse strings.

But one Wakefield holiday club, which allows children to dictate the day's activities, has been providing an invaluable service this week.

Coun Binns with Rebecca Simpson, from Stride Theatre.

Coun Binns with Rebecca Simpson, from Stride Theatre.

Crafts, music and dance all keep the kids active and entertained at Hall Green Community Centre, which opens it doors to youngsters every Wednesday during the school holidays, apart from at Christmas.

The free club, which was started with the help of ward funding by local councillors Cynthia Binns and Ian Sanders, is bringing out the best in youngsters, as well as giving their parents a well-deserved day off.

Coun Binns said: "We noticed there were quite a lot of activities going for young people, but they are mainly all sports-related.

“So we wanted to offer something that doesn’t revolve around sport.

"There used to be a youth club here, but then due to a lack of volunteers it folded.

"I think young people these days don’t necessarily want a youth club in the traditional sense, they just want somewhere to hang out.

“We’ve had one or two came through the door who were really quite shy, but now you can see they’re really coming out of their shell.

“I think it’s building confidence and it’s building their self-esteem."

Crucial to a day jam-packed with activity is the offer of some food, with the children given breakfast when they arrive at around 9am, as well as lunch and afternoon snack.

Helping to the lead the sessions is Rebecca Simpson, the creative director at Stride Theatre.

The Wakefield-based company runs performance arts and dance workshops for adults and children.

Here, there is a strong emphasis on allowing the children to timetable their own day, so that they feel empowered.

Rebecca said: "For the rest of their lives they will be told what to do. So it’s great for them just to have a few hours where they decide what they want to do.

"Sometimes we’ll come in with stuff prepared for them and they won’t want to do it, so we just go along with it."

It’s not about how good their dancing is or their end product, it’s about them coming together and having that space to be free and to have a voice.

"That’s the most important thing."

Local Democracy Reporting Service