'Educational and fun. It's not school'

11th August 2006 at 01:00
Far from being lethargic or anti-social, children are making the most of the long holidays through a diverse range of stimulating and fun activities such as DJ-ing, video-editing, DNA testing, football training, creative writing and drama workshops

The Brixton summer project aims to have a positive impact on community relations in south London, as well as provide fun activities for young people.

The scheme is run by the Lambeth summer projects trust, a partnership between the Metropolitan police, community groups, Lambeth council and local schools, founded in 1989 following youth unrest in the area.

"It was originally set up to break down barriers between the local community and the police, as well as provide something for the kids to do during the summer holidays. I think it has done that," said Sergeant Toby McDaniel, project manager.

"I wouldn't want to describe it as a crime-diversionary scheme. The vast majority of kids who come along are not involved in crime, but for those who are, providing these activities can help."

More than 150 young people aged between nine and 16 who live in or go to school in Brixton have registered for places on the project, which runs for the first four weeks of the holidays at Loughborough primary school.

For pound;10 a week - "I think you could say we are a very cheap child-minding service," said Sgt McDaniel - young people get to take part in an extensive range of activities. On-site there are creative writing, dance, drama and arts workshops, while coaches from Fulham FC provide football training.

There are also trips out to do windsurfing, sailing, canoeing, horse riding, indoor rock climbing, circus skills and dry-slope skiing, as well as visits to museums and parks.

"It's educational, recreational and fun. It's not school," said Sgt McDaniel.

"We have absolutely no problem filling the places. We have had to turn people away."

Malika Aleah, 11, who lives in Brixton and attends St Saviour's primary in Herne Hill, said: "I've been here every day since it started. I enjoy it because it's a chance to meet new people and go on great trips.

"I've really enjoyed the sailing, rock climbing and the science museum.

"It also gives you a positive view of the police. If this wasn't on I'd be at home, bored, watching TV and eating crisps."

Rianne Dundas, also 11, and a pupil at Loughborough primary, in Brixton, said: "I've enjoyed the arts and crafts, ice skating and sailing, which I'd never done before.

"It's nice to try new things. I would be sitting at home and raiding the fridge if I wasn't here, because my mum has to go to work."

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