Summer Festival of Family Fun

Mary Ann Ababa Bustillos

Mary Ann Ababa Bustillos, parent representative, explains how the Lambeth Early Action Partnership (LEAP) created free opportunities for families in Lambeth to be active outdoors together during the summer.

From July to September the Lambeth Early Action Partnership (LEAP) offered a free ‘Summer Festival of Family Fun’ across Lambeth for families with young children.

As one of LEAP’s parent representatives, I was able to contribute to promoting the summer events and to meet and support families who came along.


Why was this summer festival needed?

Many of the families in our community don’t have easy access to outdoor spaces for children to play. Keeping very young children entertained during the summer when schools and nurseries are closed can be challenging. LEAP wanted to offer families from across our diverse community free activities they might not be able to access at home, for example sports and music.

We wanted to:

  • Offer families a chance to spend quality time together outdoors at free events.
  • Reach families who don’t usually come along to LEAP events or services.
  • Share useful advice and information about services for families.

The events were organised in partnership with a range of local organisations, including housing associations, community groups, the Lambeth parenting team, and sports activity professionals. We spread the word through parent networks, and the events were widely publicised on social media, posters, and leaflets.

Free sports and active play for families

Where did the events take place?

Running the events ‘close to home’ made it easier for families with very young children to join in. Events were held in different parts of Lambeth, in parks or centres with outdoor space, near housing estates where many families with young children live. There were plenty of opportunities to join in:

Family Fun Days ran on Saturdays at Myatt’s Field North Community Centre on 22nd July, on 29th July at St Martin's Community Centre, Abbotts Park and on 26th August at Priory Court, Larkhall Park.

Garden Club ran every Friday in August at Liz Atkinson Children's Centre, and Family dance sessions ran every Thursday in July and August in Brixton Windmill Gardens. On Saturday 19th August the Caribbean Carnival Session took place at Sunshine Art Studio in Brixton.

What sort of activities were offered?

At the free ‘Family Fun Days’, parents and children could join in different activities together. There were areas for families with babies to play and read stories. Toddlers and older children enjoyed arts and crafts such as making crowns, flags and jewellery, painting, and colouring. Children could join in mini-athletics, football, dancing, and music. The big favourites were the face painting, bouncy castles, and visits from a fire engine.

Children doing mini athletics

LEAP has learned that making these events inclusive for older siblings as well as very young children, enables more families to attend in the school holidays.

There were tables hosted by different organisations offering practical advice to parents, and free healthy lunches and snacks were on offer.

How many families attended?

Each event was busy and well attended, with some families signing up in advance and many others simply turning up on the day. We estimate that in total 250 families participated.

What did families say about the festival events?

“I love LEAP’s Family Events! It is such a great activity for both parents and children. We love the music, the crafts and socializing with other parents! I hope we have some of these events over the autumn and winter. Thanks!”

Elba, mum of three children aged 5, 4 and 9 months

“We had a great time during the family summer together. Kids were so happy about the bouncy castles, free gifts, food, and music. Thank you very much and we look forward to more events.”

Sandra, mum of seven children aged 14,11,9,8,5,4 and 1

Finally, I can say that LEAP’s Summer Festival of Family Fun was great for families and the community. It addressed a need for families to go out and enjoy activities together and meet other children and parents in the community. And the good thing was, all these events were free.

My daughter had so much fun with all the activities, especially the face painting. The events were lovely, colourful, and fun - with good music. It was good for the kids and for us as parents.

LEAP is organising some amazing story telling sessions with children’s authors this autumn, so I’m looking forward to more family friendly events.

About A Better Start

A Better Start is a ten-year (2015-2025), £215 million programme set-up by The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK.

Five A Better Start partnerships based in Blackpool, Bradford, Lambeth, Nottingham and Southend are supporting families to give their babies and very young children the best possible start in life. Working with local parents, the A Better Start partnerships are developing and testing ways to improve their children’s diet and nutrition, social and emotional development, and speech, language and communication.

The work of the programme is grounded in scientific evidence and research. A Better Start is place-based and enabling systems change. It aims to improve the way that organisations work together and with families to shift attitudes and spending towards preventing problems that can start in early life. It is one of five major programmes set up by The National Lottery Community Fund to test and learn from new approaches to designing services which aim to make people’s lives healthier and happier

The National Children’s Bureau is coordinating an ambitious programme of shared learning for A Better Start, disseminating the partnerships’ experiences in creating innovative services far and wide, so that others working in early childhood development or place-based systems change can benefit.

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Visit the A Better Start website to find out more.