We all know the benefits that fresh air and exercise can have on children, yet for some youngsters the typical holiday position is cooped up in the living room, plonked in front of CBeebies.
Well, in Fareham there’s no excuse for such behaviour as the Play Rangers have returned to the town for another year of fun and free children’s activities.
The scheme is being run by Fareham Borough Council, with the help of Fareham Children’s Partnership and First Wessex.
It sees different activities, such as football, crafts and den making take place across Fareham throughout the summer holidays.
What’s even better about the activity sessions is that they are all completely free of charge and any child can just turn up and take part.
Aimed at children between the ages of five and 11, the sessions are being run by local charity Y Services.
The scheme launched on Saturday, July 20, with the Play Rangers attending the Fareham Park Purse summer fun day outside Fareham North West Community Centre.
Youth worker Fiona Durrant explains: ‘Play Rangers is bigger and better than ever this year.
‘We’re running at least six sessions a week, all across the holidays so you can drop in whenever you like and join in.
‘The emphasis is on the outdoors; it’s all about children and young people getting into the sunshine and having a good time this summer.’
On the second day of activities, children joined in a backyard beach session held at Tanners Gate and played typical beach games, such as cricket.
In the afternoon, kids were entertained by a free crafts session and decorated colourful masks in a Mardi Gras theme.
The activities were being led by Play Rangers Keith Baker, 41, and Emma Hale, 19.
They are part of a team of six Play Rangers, from Y Services, who will be taking it in turns to run the sessions.
Keith says: ‘We’ve been doing backyard beach today, which is one of the themes, we’ve done crazy golf, played rounders, arts and crafts – it was pretty cool.
‘This afternoon we did Mardi Gras. There’s a different theme every time. For three days in the summer we are based at each place. There’s other places all over – Locks Heath, Stubbington, Titchfield – so we are all over the place.’
Emma says, ‘A lot of the children’s activities you pay for tend to be for over seven years old, so it’s quite nice to have something for a lower age as it means that whole families can come along with all their children and join in.’
‘It’s an open activity afternoon, so there’s no specific ideas, if they want to do something different which we can provide then we will, they should just come down.
‘More importantly, it’s free and it’s something different to do in the summer holidays, something that kids can enjoy.
‘It’s not a paid-for all-day-long activity, it’s just a couple of hours in the sun. Some kids don’t get a lot of fresh air as there tends to be quite a lot of computer playing, so it’s nice to get back to basics and do some activities and play out in the fresh air.’
Keith adds: ‘Something like this also gives the parents a bit of a break too, they can come along and sit down and watch their kids having fun.’
Joy Smith, 39, from Redlands Lane, attended the first sessions with her children, Christian, nine and Sian, seven.
Joy says: ‘We used the Play Rangers last year so we know what a fantastic service it is.
‘We made a special effort to come again this year. It gives them a chance to be children and be creative so we will definitely be coming again.’
Diane Hulks, from Fareham, brought her grandson Oliver along.
Diane says: ‘It’s my first time, we were visiting the museum and I saw it out of the window.
‘We came along and simply joined in. I think it’s brilliant, I’ve got the list now so we’ll be coming to a few more.’
The Play Rangers initiative seeks to provide free fun, safe and informal play opportunities using parks and green spaces.
It has been run in Fareham for several years and each year has grown bigger and more popular.
Last year, the funding for Play Rangers ended prompting concerns from parents that the scheme would not run again this year.
Thankfully, Fareham Borough Council managed to save the scheme by obtaining funding.
Executive member for leisure, Cllr Connie Hockley, said: ‘I’m delighted the Play Rangers have returned, it’s great news.
‘When the Big Lottery funding for the service ended we were determined to make sure it wasn’t the end. We obtained an external grant by following a tendering process, now we’ve teamed up with Y Services who are running the scheme for us.
‘With more than 30 events happening across the borough during July and August, from nature play, to footie fun and messy art – there’s something for everyone.’
Leader of Fareham Borough Council Cllr Sean Woodward said: ‘Children shouldn’t be kept at home during the holidays, they should be out enjoying the delights of an English summer with all that it has to offer in Fareham.
‘I’m pleased that this scheme allows everybody to take part in free outdoor play.’
The sessions are accessible to all children, although children under eight years old must be supervised by their parent, carer or a responsible adult.
Friday, August 2, 10am until midday - Footie fun and messy art at Ocean Close, Stow Estate, Fareham
Monday, August 5, 10am until midday - Eco world green activities at Westbury Manor Museum gardens, 84 West Street, Fareham, PO16 0JJ
Tuesday, August 6, 2pm until 4pm - Backyard beach at Portchester Community Centre, Westlands Grove, PO16 9AD
Wednesday, August 7, 10am until midday and then 1pm until 3pm - National play day and teddy bears picnic at Holly Hill Woodland Park, Barnes Lane, Fareham
Thursday, August 8, 10am until midday - Den making and wild play at Fareham North West Community Centre, Henry Cort Drive, off Hillson Drive, PO15 6TL
Friday, August 9 2pm until 4pm - Footie fun and messy art at Stubbington Recreation Ground, Bells Lane, Stubbington village centre
Monday, August 12, 10am until midday - Pirates and fairies at Bellfield Play Area, Titchfield
Tuesday, August 13, 10am until midday - Den making and wild play at Ocean Close, Stow Estate, Fareham
Tuesday, August 13, 2pm until 4pm - Mardi gras crafts at Bishopsfield Road, opposite Broadlaw Community Space, Broadlaw Walk, West End, Fareham, PO14 1LN
Wednesday, August 14, 10am until midday - Nature play at the open space at bottom of Kenwood Road, Portchester
Thursday, August 15, 2pm until 4pm - Backyard beach at Hollybrook Gardens, Locks Heath
Friday, August 16, 10am until midday - Pirates and fairies at Tanners Gate, big tree by play area, Elsanta Crescent, Titchfield Common PO14 4FS
Saturday, August 17, 11am until 4pm - Family fun at Broadlaw Summer Fair, Bishopsfield Road
Monday, August 19, 2pm until 4pm - Footie fun and backyard beach at Stubbington Recreation Ground, Bells Lane, Stubbington village centre
Tuesday, August 20, 10am until midday - Eco world and green activities at Portchester Community Centre, Westlands Grove, PO16 9AD
Tuesday, August 20, 2pm until 4pm - Backyard beach at Fareham Leisure Centre, Park Lane, Fareham PO16 7JU
Wednesday, August 21, 10am until midday - Mardi gras crafts at Bellfield Play Area, Titchfield
Thursday, August 22, 2pm until 4pm - Nature play at Hollybrook Gardens, Locks Heath
Friday, August 23, 10am until midday - Footie fun and messy art at Fareham North West Community Centre, Henry Cort Drive, off Hillson Drive, PO15 6TL
Monday, August 26, Bank Holiday - no play rangers
Tuesday, August 27, 10am until midday - Backyard beach at Tanners Gate, big tree by play area, Elsanta Crescent, Titchfield Common PO14 4FS Tuesday, August 27, 2pm until 4pm - Den making and wild play at Bellfield play area, Titchfield
Wednesday, August 28, 10am until midday - Rope swings and den building at Dore Avenue, Portchester
Thursday, August 29, 2pm until 4pm - Footie fun and messy art at Stubbington Recreation Ground, Bells Lane, Stubbington village centre
Friday, August 30 10am until midday - Pirates and fairies at Westbury Manor Museum Gardens, 84 West Street, Fareham PO16 0JJ
All the activities are free of charge for children between the ages of five and 11.
For more information on any of the activities go to fareham.gov.uk/leisure/whats_on/playrangers.aspx or call 01329 236100.