Holiday programmes to keep kids busy

Athlone library is running Easter holiday programmes.

Arts and crafts, storytelling, Easter egg hunts, games, reading programmes, movies and more are on the menu at city libraries during the school holidays.

Residents can visit their library or check the City of Cape Town’s website for details.

The City’s recreation and parks department is also running daily activities for children of all ages, from Monday April 3 to Monday April 17 at community centres, sports fields and parks.

Indoor programmes include table-tennis, air hockey, e-games, limbo, pool, poetry and drama, concerts, and indigenous games. Oudoors activities include five-a-side soccer, mini-netball, hikes, Easter egg hunts, and spray park games.

JP Smith, the City’s mayoral committee member for safety and security; and social services, said the programmes kept children busy over the holidays and encouraged them to take part in sport and recreation.

“I encourage residents to visit their local community centres daily to find out what is happening,” he said.

Armien Fredericks is the children’s librarian at Athlone library, in Protea Street, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year. He said the library programmes were popular with children, but books had to be very interesting to compete with modern technology.

“I am very excited about the programmes and especially arts and crafts. It is important to host these programmes to get the kids to the library so that they can use our services and also to promote library stock,” he said.

The library usually has more than 20 children taking part in its holiday activities daily.

“Arts and crafts attracts the most children,” said Allison Goliath, assistant librarian at the children’s library. “The parents are very happy about the programme and eager to send their children. They always ask us when is the next programme.”

Reading not only helped grow a child’s vocabulary and stimulate their imagination, said Ms Goliath, it also developed their creative writing at school, not just their spelling and grammar.

“The children always socialise well in groups during the programmes; they all enjoy it.”

Assistant librarian Hayley Daniels said library staff did a lot of preparation for the programmes and pored over books to find fun things to do.

“We choose something challenging but not too difficult for the children to do. We try it out first and then introduce it to the children,” she said.

Computer games and DVDs are always very popular, but the staff make an effort to include physical games, arts and crafts.

Ms Goliath said many children were often left at home with their grandparents during the holidays because their parents could not take leave from work. It was also hard for children in outlying residential areas to reach the library in the Athlone CBD.

Nevertheless, Ms Goliath said the children learned so much at the holiday programmes that it was worth making every effort to get them to the library.

“It also keeps children off the streets during the school holidays,” she said.

Children also come after school and water the plants in the library’s vegetable garden.

Ten local schools will take part in a reading competition at the library, on Wednesday April 26.

Each school will send one child to participate and three as audience members. Judges will ask the participants three questions and give them three words to spell from a piece of reading. They will also be judged on how they read and the time they take.

Public pools and spray parks, which have been closed because of water shortages, have been reopened for the school holidays.

The pools are open daily, from 10am to 5pm, until Tuesday April 18, with the exception of Newlands, Westridge and Trafalgar pools, which are undergoing repairs. Sea Point pool is open from 7am to 6pm.

Call recreation officer Mary Scholtz at 021 906 0783 or 071 851 1143 for details.