After months of lockdown, Jason Roberts Foundation (JRF) was thrilled to open the Bridgestone Arena doors to welcome children and young people back for a summer of sport.

Funding from Hyde and John Lyons Fund enabled Brent-based JRF and Connect Stars to join forces to lay on four fun-filled weeks of sports, games, dance, drama and days out for Hyde’s young residents to enjoy. 

Careful changes were made, following Government guidance, to make sure coaches and mentors could deliver these activities safely, but still have lots of socially-distanced fun. 

Sports zones were created so each group had an opportunity to try each of the activities on offer, including basketball, tennis, table tennis, tag rugby, football and urban golf. Hillside Performing Arts encouraged youngsters to try out different forms of dance and drama. 

Support from some parents, along with young volunteers from JRF’s Youth Leadership Programme, meant small groups could go on day trips to experience new activities in different settings. Kayaking, along with the driving lessons, through Young Driver, were very popular. One young participant said: : “It’s the best thing I’ve ever experienced!” 

JRF knew it was vital to resume activities as soon as government guidance allowed, as the restrictions were having a negative impact on physical and mental wellbeing. Throughout the weeks youngsters of all ages and abilities made new friends, shared experiences, learnt about each other’s cultures and were able to keep fit and healthy in a safe environment.

Julie Costley, Hyde’s Successful Places Partnership and Project Manager said:

“We are excited to continue supporting Jason Robert Foundation and Connect Stars to offer young Hyde residents in Stonebridge positive activities and local opportunities. I’m delighted with the rapid response of both these partners. It’s highlighted how their great work lifts the community even in the most challenging circumstances.” 

JRF’s Youth Leadership Programme grew with four young volunteers helping to run the summer programme, with several applications from other young participants eager to get involved. The newly created Cultural Media Centre was a hit, with youngsters learning about career paths in the media and recording podcasts.

The Mayor of Brent visited and energetically tried out one of the newly installed rowing machines, and Council leader, Mo Butt, spent time speaking with the young people. Feedback from participants has been enthusiastic, with some describing it as: “The best summer ever!”