Thousands of families across Kent have benefitted from “Let’s Create” packs specially designed to provide extra activities for schoolchildren affected by the Covid lockdown.
Several KCC services collaborated to decide what kinds of materials would be of greatest benefit, especially to those families without access to a computer or similar device. Many others have to share one, which could mean limited time online for individual children.
KCC Culture and Creative Economy Manager Tony Witton said: “One of the challenges was how to identify where the packs needed to go, so we worked with KCC colleagues in different teams and ended up talking to district councils through the Covid-19 Community Cell.
“This put us in touch with community hubs, churches, food banks and other groups who work directly with their local communities so we knew whatever we produced would go to people who really needed them.”
KCC then joined forces with Arts Council England, which had announced plans to work through its Bridge organisations, Artswork and ROH Bridge, to distribute “Let’s Create” packs and distributed 4,500 in Kent with different packs for primary and secondary school age children, together with 500 additional packs for older people.
More than 450 boxes were distributed to district councils so the packs could be delivered to individuals locally.
KCC funding for the packs was matched by the Arts Council Bridge organisations ROH Bridge and Artswork with National Lottery funding and additional support from the Crafts Council and Art Fund.
The Let’s Create packs contained an activity sheet created by art teacher Andria Zafirakou, winner of the 2018 Global Teacher Prize. KCC added a set of Art Rebel activity cards made in a collaboration between Turner Contemporary and award winning illustrator Alex Foster; the Art Builders at Home activity booklet created by Animate Arts and containing six Art Builder Toolkits designed by a national team of award winning artists; and My Active Rainbow Challenge from Kent School Games in partnership with the Kent Children’s University.
The activities in the packs can all be done at home using low cost, easy-to-find materials and KCC added specialist art materials including paints, brushes, coloured pencils with a sharpener and eraser, marker pens, sketch books and craft shapes so children could get really creative.
Kent children’s centres provided 750 early years creative resource packs to families supported by its Children and Young People services. The packs were supplemented with resources from the Culture and Creative Economy Service including 3,000 sunflower seeds donated by The Education People and distributed to young people by Kent Youth Teams. In addition, 500 watercolour packs designed by Turner Contemporary were distributed to older people.
Mike Hill, KCC Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services, said: “This was an extremely worthwhile and commendable effort by staff from several of our services, working in collaboration with specialist arts organisations and the county’s district councils.
“I am delighted that so many Kent schoolchildren and older people have been able to enjoy the result of those efforts to give them extra activities to enjoy during this difficult period.”
Darren Henley, Chief Executive of Arts Council England said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, we’re helping children to lead creative lives during lockdown. We know that being creative teaches young people new skills, as well as increasing their overall happiness and wellbeing. These art boxes will help more children from every background get the chance to flourish despite the challenges they’re facing right now.”
Emma Everett, from Ashford Borough Council, said: Thank you so much for all the hard work you and your team put into creating the art packs. The contents of the packs are great.
We have had such a fantastic response from the community groups and schools we have delivered them too. They will make a difference to so many children over the summer break.”
Links to online versions of the resources included in the packs are here:
Arts Council England Let’s Create https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/sites/default/files/download-file/Lets_Create_Pack_21052020.pdf
Artbuilders at Home https://artbuilders.co.uk/resources/
Kent School Games Active Rainbow Challenge (by 31 August) https://www.kentschoolgames.com/my-active-rainbow/21931/my-active-rainbow-challenge
Turner Contemporary activities for families https://turnercontemporary.org/creative-resources-for-families/
Kent Children’s University – http://www.kentchildrensuniversity.co.uk/cukent/home/kcu-challenges/home-learning-resources-(covid-19)/