While the majority of students were still at home, or for some – already in the library, for 15 volunteers the final week of the Easter break was one of of the most intense of the year.
Students from the CATSS project (Children Achieving Through Student Support) spent the week working with disadvantaged children from County Durham, aiming to build their confidence and widen their experiences through activities such as rock climbing, team building and pizza making. The volunteers held responsibility for the entire week including cooking three meals a day for 40 people, looking after the welfare needs of all the children and making sure everyone went to bed on time.
The week started with an exciting visit from Jay’s Animal Encounters – giving both the kids and the volunteers a chance to face their fears as tarantulas, scorpions and snakes were passed around the group (for the less adventurous there was also an appearance from a baby meerkat!) After a quick turnaround, the day finished with everyone toasting marshmallows over a campfire and enjoying a sing-along.
A midweek trip to the swimming pool gave the more confident kids a chance to have a splash about, whilst for some this was a chance to learn some new skills in the shallow end – supported by the volunteers the whole time. A short coach ride later the group arrived at Broom House farm, just in time to watch the birth of a lamb only metres away – an amazing experience for all (despite the scepticism of one volunteer).
The week finished on a high with the presentation of individual certificates, highlighting the achievements of each child and leaving them with lasting memories.
The project was a huge success, with all the children sad to leave at the end of the week. Everyone involved now looks ahead to the reunion day after exams.
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