Here we are, already a year on from summer holiday club 2020, at which time we thought that by summer 2021, the restrictions of Covid would be a distant memory, yet here we are, still in the midst of it all, trying to navigate our way through it.
It’s been a while since I last blogged, life has been busier than ever, with the cogs of the world beginning to turn full speed again while we wade through the dos and don’ts of life in 2021. If we think it’s been a tough 18 months for us as adults, imagine what it must be like for the kids?
In adulthood, the days, weeks and months fly by, never ceasing to amaze me at the speed in which we reach the end of another year. Year by year, it just seems to go even faster! But when I think back to childhood, a half term at school seemed like an eternity. Counting down the endless weeks until the school holidays seemed to drag, the months until you were a year older took forever to arrive, summers playing out with friends were weeks of endless bliss and turning 18 felt like an infinite number of years away! So I put myself in their shoes. How they must have felt throughout this whole year and a half. I asked many adults and children how the pandemic has affected them and this is the feedback I received:
At first, it was a bit of a novelty for many – extra time off school, lying in later, no rushing, quality family time, enjoying the beautiful weather. A welcome, temporary relief to step off the treadmill of life. In those first three weeks when we were told that’s all it would be, many families grasped it as a gift to utilise.
For other families, the first few weeks were scary and uncertain – some children had parents who were keyworkers and became terrified their parents would die. Others had parents who were furloughed or made redundant. For some, their grandparents were an integral part of their childcare and they were snatched away from them overnight. For those who were affected financially, the security of mealtimes were impacted, too. For some children, the fear and anxiety has been present from day one and continued right through.
But one thing I have seen and heard, amongst my own family and friends, at school and at holiday club is that every single child has been affected in some way or another. The level of fear and anxiety in our young people is alarming and equally heart-breaking. This became more apparent when schools returned in full numbers.
Socialisation and building relationships is such a vital part of child development. If you think how much we’ve missed our friends and family (as adults) imagine how our children feel when that is the most dominant area of their world? A year and half of a child’s life is infinite for them and it’s hard to escape the constant media and online frenzy that can (and has) easily instil a deep fear into the minds of our young ones, resulting in many children who have developed depression, anxiety, OCD, worry, concern and even guilt, over whether their actions will harm someone they love or whether they’re breaking government rules. Some have almost forgotten how to play and interact with other children and live in fear of any physical contact. Some were left with the trauma of missing other family members who were previously part of their every day life.
But there are ways we can help our young ones heal their scars of the pandemic and at Indigo, everything we do is with a holistic approach.
Creativity allows the mind to switch off from daily troubles. A creative act such as crafting or baking can help focus the mind, and has even been compared to meditation due to its calming effects on the brain and body. Even just gardening or sewing releases dopamine, a natural anti-depressant. Creativity reduces anxiety, depression, and stress and it can also help process trauma.
Spending time outdoors, especially in green spaces, is one of the fastest ways to improve health and happiness – even some doctors are now distributing ‘natural prescriptions’ with a proven positive impact on well-being. Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases positivity. Exposure to nature not only improves positive emotions, it contributes to physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. Interaction with animals can also help alleviate stress, anxiety, depression, feelings of loneliness and social isolation .
Children have the opportunity to play, explore, discover, learn skills, observe the natural world, meet and interact with animals (safely) and grow plants, flowers and vegetables from seed at Indigo, activities we recognise as a vital contribution to mental health alongside educational and enriching experiences.
Similar effects have also been studied with physical creativity in dancing, singing and other musical activities. We bring in guest workshops to give children the chance to try something they may never have had the opportunity to do before. We use our visiting workshops as a chance to learn new skills and inspire our art and craft activities so everything we do is inter-connected.
I have worked with children in a few different settings for most of my adult life but one thing remains consistent through every role I’ve been in, and that is my belief and determination that every child matters. Every child deserves the chance to have a happy, carefree childhood. Every child deserves to live confidently, be included, to experience magical moments, to make friends and happy memories. Every child has the right to enjoy their childhood the way it should be. I am determined to make a monumental effort and ensure that every child who comes to Indigo Summer Holiday Club, has the opportunity to experience the most awesome summer of fun they’ll remember. So let’s fill summer 2021 with some incredible, positive memories, put some smiles back on their little faces and sparkles back in their eyes – welcome to Indigo Arts and Crafts Summer Holiday Club 2021. See you on Monday!