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Wednesday, 30 September 2020
FAMILIES in Sonning Common say they are grateful for the young volunteers who planned free summer events for their children during the coronavirus lockdown.
Active Leaders is a training programme based in the village that teaches teenagers and young adults how to plan sports activities and events for younger children.
The training normally takes place ouside but because of the pandemic, it had been done online using Zoom.
Amanda Watkins-Cooke, who helps run the programme, said: “Our main aim is to run active leadership courses but with the covid situation we adapted it during the lockdown.”
By the time the training had been completed, the lockdown restrictions had eased and the young leaders were able to put their new skills to the test.
The team planned weekly events for village children ranging from scavenger hunts to relay races. The final event was a Disney-themed scavenger hunt held on Thursday last week. Mrs Watkins-Cooke, who lives in Sonning Common, said: “We’ve had in excess of 55 families and to get them outside and in the fresh air was great. Vitamin D from the sunshine is the best thing to fight covid.”
Ben and Lauren Densham, of Newfield Road, Sonning Common, took part in a number of events with their four children, Ruben, 10, Ellie, eight, Toby, six, and Noah, four.
Mrs Densham, 34, said: “I was blown away by the amount of effort that went into these activities and the fact they were all free.
“The kids absolutely loved it. For the racing activity, all six of us took part because they loved it so much. Ellie kept asking, ‘When are we going to do the next one?’
“The kids were doing well during the lockdown because we home-schooled them but all their clubs and groups had stopped and they couldn’t see their friends, so it was really nice to have something else fun to to do.
“The enthusiasm of the leaders was fantastic.
“They produced booklets as well, which was great as I home-school the kids, so we used them for teaching purposes.”
The booklets were sent to schools in Sonning Common and included recipes, arts and crafts ideas and local walks to try.
The leaders also enjoyed the experience.
Jack Thomas, 16, of Hartsbourne Road, Sonning Common, said: “It has been great to be an active leader during lockdown as it was a break from the boring and a good way to get away from the nastiness of the world.”
Jack, who attends Maiden Erlegh Chiltern Edge School, felt the online training was well organised and helpful.
“It gave me the knowledge for how to make events and how to work as a team.
“I want to be a primary school teacher one day and I feel this experience has really helped me.”
Mrs Watkins-Cooke said: “It’s really sad that it’s come to an end but we have great plans in the works going forward.”
Active Leaders, which was set up by villager Penny Snowden in 2016, trains young people and university students in basic first aid, safeguarding and how to be motivational and organised when leading activities.
They can then include the skills on their CVs when applying for jobs.
At the end of the course they each receive a certificate and can also obtain a reference when seeking employment.
Almost 1,000 people have been trained as Active Leaders since the scheme was established.
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