Holiday programme to spread feast of festive fun for families

Children enjoying the FEAST programme. Photo credit: Oliver Dixon Photography.

A North Yorkshire mother has spoken of how her teenage son’s life has been turned around thanks to a holiday programme that enables children and young people to socialise, learn new skills and stay active.

Bookings are now open for our Christmas holiday programme, which has previously helped to put a smile on the faces of hundreds of children across the county, including 16-year-old Madoc Morris.

The FEAST programme, which takes place from Friday, 22 December, to Monday, 8 January, is coordinated by North Yorkshire Together – a partnership between North Yorkshire Sport, North Yorkshire Youth and Rural Arts.

Open to all children and young people in North Yorkshire, those who are eligible can attend for free and receive a hot meal or packed lunch.

Families that accessed the FEAST activities over the summer have praised the scheme, including single mother-of-two Anna Howard.

Anna lives in Harrogate with her two sons, Madoc and Mani (12). As a single mother, the school holidays are always a challenge, but especially so for Anna, who suffers from lupus, an auto-immune disease that can affect many parts of the body, and has also recently been diagnosed with breast cancer.

Anna says the FEAST sessions with physical activity provider Dopeamin have proved vital for her family and have helped hugely to transform Madoc’s outlook on life.

Adam Ebzao, who runs Dopeamin in Harrogate, visited Madoc’s school and instantly made an impact.

Anna said: “From the very beginning, Madoc loved attending Dopeamin. Adam didn’t just show him the exercises he can do, but also how to eat well, how to look after himself and take care of his mental health. It turned his life around.

“Before Madoc started the Dopeamin sessions, he weighed 15 stone. He’s lost that excess weight with all the exercise Adam has encouraged him into and he’s been eating better, too. There’s no doubt that Dopeamin has helped Madoc feel better emotionally and mentally, too. As a result, I would say he has really turned a corner, and now he’s training to be an electrician.

“I feel so thankful for FEAST and for Dopeamin. Thanks to this holiday programme, both my boys have something positive to do in the holidays.”

We have been allocated funding by the Department of Education for this year’s provision of Christmas activities, which will see 55 activity providers enabling children and young people to enjoy sports, drama and music, as well as arts and cultural activities throughout the festive holiday period.

Executive member for education, learning and skills, Cllr Annabel Wilkinson, said the clubs, which are free to those who are eligible, ensure no child misses the opportunity of an exciting, happy and healthy Christmas break.

She said: “We are always here to help families in any way we can. Christmas is a very expensive time of year, especially if you have children. With the current cost of living crisis, the FEAST scheme will be a very welcome resource for many families over the festive break.”

North Yorkshire Together’s strategic director, Max May, added: “With winter approaching, and families across North Yorkshire feeling the ongoing impacts of the cost of living crisis, these FEAST activities may be our most important yet.

“With all sorts to do, all over the county, eligible children and young people can stay engaged, active, fed – and warm – at FEAST activities this Christmas.”

Founder and managing director of Dopeamin, Adam Ebzao, said: “Madoc is one of Dopeamin’s great success stories. His application and curiosity to learning on our programmes speaks volumes of his character. Through his own hard work, investing in himself, he has built constructive habits that allow him to thrive in his apprenticeship and offer a foundation of discipline and awareness. I couldn’t be any prouder of him.”

Eligible families across North Yorkshire will receive information about FEAST and a voucher to book their free place via their school. See more details.