Northampton holiday scheme where the screens are left behind celebrates 10 years of doing things 'the old fashioned way'

While many parents fear that iPads and screens are fast becoming 'the digital babysitter', one Northampton playscheme is celebrating 10 years of doing things the old-fashioned way.

Friday, 26th October 2018, 5:33 pm
Updated Friday, 26th October 2018, 6:40 pm
The Happy Hols play scheme is celebrating 10 years of doing things 'the old-fashioned way'.

This week marked the 10th anniversary of the Happy Hols playgroup in Wooton. It's a school holiday club where children have no access to electronic devices whatsoever.

The scheme - which was rated 'outstanding' in all areas by Ofsted in their last inspection - celebrated its birthday on October 24 with a 'jelly-and-ice-cream' kind of party; one with pass-the-parcel, pinatas and musical statues, and without a games console in sight.

Playworker Wendy Bell manages Happy Hols with her husband Phil Chard. They set up the group in 2008 when a friend said they could not find a play group where there was enough 'play' going on.

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Happy Hols pride themselves on running a holiday club where there are no electronic devices - at all.

Wendy said: "We pick up a lot of our children from parents who say they have trouble even talking to their kids now.

"But our parents are amazed when their children come home from Happy Hols and find them relaxed and talkative and making conversation again.

"If children play from their own instincts they use their own creativity and imagination, rather than letting pictures on a screen do it for them.

"I think in the last 10 years the influence of iPads and computers has been too big. It has a purpose in schools but I think too easy to become dependent on them, and then it's hard to create downtime from it."

"Parents are amazed when they pick up their children and find them relaxed and talkative and making conversation."

Instead, Happy Hols - which is based in Wooton Primary School and have schemes set up in Hartwell and at Spring Lane Primary School - have stripped away all screens and provide their children with instruments, Lego and hands-on equipment to take their minds away from the internet for a day.

The scheme has 400 children on its register and is an all-inclusive group for children between the age of four and 14.

Wendy said: "Thank you to all the children and parents and staff that have helped us get here today. We're immensely proud of what we do."

Happy Hols operates using the "play work" principles - a play scheme where the children direct what they do in a day.