The long summer holidays are great for kids but can be a headache and real worry for parents, writes Ipswich Council Leader, David Ellesmere.
How to keep your children safe, occupied and out of trouble? It can be difficult if both parents work and equally difficult if you are on a low income.
Supervised sports activity is a great way to keep youngsters occupied. It is much better for their fitness levels than sitting on a sofa watching TV or playing computer games. It is much safer than having them roaming bored on the streets.
For this reason, Ipswich Borough Council has always put on a great range of sporting activities over the summer holidays.
But we know that, even though the council’s summer sports activities are very reasonably priced, cost can be still be a barrier to using them.
This was why we piloted a free iCard for Ipswich Borough Council’s sports centres and swimming pools last year. It was a great success with over 24,000 visits by young people to our facilities over the six-week period.
As a result, we have now made the free summer iCard permanent.
We are also simplifying the qualifying criteria. Last year it was based on which school you attended. This year there is a simple residency qualification – if are aged 5 – 16 over summer and live in the Ipswich Borough area you are eligible for a free iCard.
As well as the usual sports centre and swimming use, there will be over 400 events and activities including football, cricket, athletics, roller skating, basketball, trampolining, racquet sports, martial arts and disability sports.
Some of the activities, like junior jet ski and sea scooters at Crown Pools, we believe are unique in Suffolk.
As well as bookable activities at sports centres and pools, we will also be running our ever-popular Jumpers for Goalposts community sports programme in parks and recreation grounds across Ipswich over summer. These are free, turn up and play sessions.
Ipswich children will have the best and most affordable range of sporting activities anywhere in Suffolk this summer. That is something we should be very proud of.
For more details and to apply for a summer iCard go to: www.ipswichfit.co.uk/summerholidayicard