Two award-winning Granite City charities have teamed up to deliver relaxed canoeing sessions for children of all abilities as part of a free activity programme this summer.
Aberdeen City Council’s 'Summer of Play' programme aims to support the wellbeing of children and young people across the city who have been impacted by the CV19 pandemic.
Sport Aberdeen is one of several partners offering a huge range of free activities based on what young people and their families said they missed most during lockdown.
In partnership with award-winning charity We Too!, an organisation which empowers families of children with disabilities in the north-east, Sport Aberdeen has been delivering relaxed canoeing sessions at the city’s historic Rubislaw Quarry, specifically designed to allow children of all abilities to enjoy the sport in a safe and welcoming environment.
We Too! has supported Adventure Aberdeen staff with additional training and resource packs and each family session has had an additional staff member on hand to help support all participants.
Graeme Dale, Sport Aberdeen's head of sport and active communities, said: “We are thrilled to be offering such a diverse range of free sporting and outdoor activities as part of the 'Summer of Play' programme and by working in partnership with We Too! we have been able to extend our offering even further.
“This has been a very challenging year and it is so important to support young people of all abilities not only in reconnecting with family and friends but also by giving them the opportunity to try something completely new.
“Our relaxed canoeing sessions, delivered by specifically trained staff, create a safe place for young people with additional support needs to take part in a fun activity in a breath-taking setting alongside family members, completely free of charge, and the response we have had has been fantastic.”
Phionna McInnes, chief executive of We Too!, added: “It’s been wonderful to strengthen our existing partnership with Sport Aberdeen, delivering our 'Summer of Play' offering to children with additional support needs within the city.
“The feedback has been incredible from families who have been unable to attend previous sessions, not just due to the pandemic, but also due to shielding, young carers roles and financial considerations. Fantastic, positive memories are being made this summer by all families within the area and we are delighted to be able to play our part.”
Depute Lord Provost, Councillor Jennifer Stewart was at Rubislaw Quarry to see the adventure activity at first hand. She said: “It was wonderful to be at Rubislaw and see the participants experiencing the freedom of being on holiday, of being outside and enjoying adventure - a true gift of experience.
“We’ve had a tremendous response from children and young people to our huge and unprecedented 'Summer of Play'. It’s such a pleasure to be able to provide our young people with the fun and enjoyment that they have missed over the last year.
“With partners such as Sport Aberdeen and WeToo! Aberdeen City Council is delivering the biggest tailor-made programme of play and creative activities in our history. Importantly, as we work towards becoming a UNICEF-recognised Child Friendly City, the 'Summer of Play' has been co-designed by our children and young people who told us exactly which activities they have most missed because of the impact of the pandemic.”
The 'Summer of Play' programme sees a huge range of activities, completely free to participants, across the city from sports to science, arts and crafts to interaction with the city’s wildlife and green spaces.
The activities are based on a consultation undertaken by Aberdeen City Council with children and young people being directly involved in shaping the programme, suggesting activities they missed most during lockdown and the activities they most wanted to get back to when restrictions eased.
The involvement of children and young people is a key element of Aberdeen’s ongoing work towards becoming a UNICEF-recognised Child Friendly City.
The priorities for access to the programme are those, including low-income families, who have experienced the most significant negative impacts associated with extended periods of isolation and lack of participation in normal activities during the pandemic.