Fit, Fed and Read will provide multi-sport activities, reading challenges and workshops about healthy living for youngsters aged six-16. Each session will also include a nutritious lunch, free of charge, for all participants.
The project will be delivered by LiveWire from Westy Community Centre and Stockton Heath Library, thanks to funding from the Big Lottery Fund and Big Local.
Holiday hunger is increasingly becoming a big problem. New figures from anti-poverty family, The Trussell Trust, reveal that 78% of families who rely on food banks have skipped meals or gone days without food in the last 12 months.
During the school holidays free school meals are not available, which puts more financial pressure on families who rely on food banks.
Many families also suffer with social isolation during the summer break, as they cannot afford to do activities, take their children on days out, or invite their friends over, meaning children end up spending most of their holiday indoors.
Paul Flannery, neighbourhood engagement officer at LiveWire, who is running the project, said: “School holidays are supposed to be a fun time of year, but for many low income families, it’s a time when children become isolated as there are no free activity programmes on offer, and they are at risk of going hungry because of the lack of free school meals.
“We ran a pilot version of the programme last year, which was really successful, but the funding from the Big Lottery and Big Local means we can provide the project for the whole of the summer break and support more young people to stay active and healthy, whilst they’re not in school or college.”
The project is part of the national Fit and Fed campaign – an initiative from StreetGames, which was developed in response to research that highlighted the high levels of holiday hunger, isolation, and inactivity amongst young people.
Their target is to activate 7,500 children and serve at least 250,000 healthy lunches nationally during the 2017 summer holidays.
Young people taking part in the project will have an opportunity to spend one day a week at VPX in Victoria Park – the multi-activity event, which engages with thousands of youngsters every summer.
The project will run five days a week from now until Friday 25 August.