Read­ing club helped feed kids’ minds and bod­ies

Rochdale Observer - - FRONT PAGE - Da­mon.wilkin­son@men­media.co.uk @Da­monWilkin­son6

HUN­DREDS of young­sters en­joyed a sum­mer of read­ing, ex­er­cise and healthy eat­ing at the pi­o­neer­ing Fit, Feed and Read scheme at li­braries across Rochdale.

The sum­mer hol­i­day club sees young­sters from some of the bor­ough’s most de­prived neigh­bour­hoods dine out ev­ery lunchtime at their lo­cal library.

This year more than 300 kids packed into Balder­stone, Darn­hill, Junc­tion, Lan­g­ley and Small­bridge li­braries over the six week hol­i­days.

And young­sters who read six books were awarded spe­cially de­signed medals and cer­tifi­cates dur­ing pre­sen­ta­tions at library branches.

The vi­sion of the Fit, Feed and Read scheme, which is run in part­ner­ship with Link4Life, is to pro­vide chil­dren with lunch, a free ac­tiv­ity and learn­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties through­out the school hol­i­days.

Coun Janet Em­s­ley, cabinet mem­ber for li­braries, said: “I am so pleased to see how many chil­dren par­tic­i­pated in Fit, Feed and Read this year. We are very proud of the scheme, which pro- motes healthy eat­ing and en­sures chil­dren are pro­vided with pos­i­tive ac­tiv­i­ties to en­joy dur­ing the school hol­i­days.

“Well done to every­one in­volved in com­plet­ing the chal­lenge and un­der­lin­ing that read­ing mat­ters. It’s an­other Rochdale li­braries suc­cess story to be proud of.”

Coun Allen Brett, leader of the coun­cil, said: “I was really im­pressed with Fit, Feed and Read which show­cased our li­braries at their very best. The scheme is thriv­ing and pop­u­lar with chil­dren and par­ents across the bor­ough.

“It en­cour­ages learn­ing, so­cial­is­ing and healthy eat­ing in fun en­vi­ron­ment. We have one of the best library ser­vices in the coun­try with a com­mit­ted and ded­i­cated team of staff.

“Thank you to every­one for mak­ing the 2018 Fit, Feed and Read the best one yet.”

Last sum­mer the Ob­server vis­ited Balder­stone library dur­ing the

Speak­ing at the time, Coun John Blun­dell the man be­hind the idea, told how he hope the scheme would have a ‘really pos­i­tive im­pact on the kids and li­braries’.

He said: ““It’s heart­break­ing, but there are chil­dren who lose weight in the sum­mer hol­i­days be­cause they’re not get­ting lunch,” he said.

“It’s not be­cause their par­ents don’t love them, it’s just a sign of the times.

“And it’s not just par­ents who are out of work, it’s those work­ing on zero hour con­tracts or in un­pre­dictable work.

“But it’s not Oliver Twist, it’s not ‘please sir, can I have some more?’

“It’s a much more pos­i­tive way of deal­ing with the prob­lem.”

●●Coun Janet Em­s­ley and chil­dren at Small­bridge library dur­ing Rochdale coun­cil’s Fit, Feed and Read hol­i­day club

●●Rochdale coun­cil leader Allen Brett with chil­dren on the scheme

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