Fifty excited youngsters have been rocking to the beat of a special half-term holiday week of music and outdoor fun at a Wrexham school.
The packed four-day programme at St Mary’s School, Brymbo, under the banner of School’s Out, included everything from frantic samba drumming to all-action games out in the playground.
It was arranged and run by the North Wales Music Co-operative (NMC), which is an award-winning, not-for-profit organisation providing quality music tuition across two local authority areas.
NMC is made up of two sister co-operatives, in Wrexham and Denbighshire, and is run by teachers for the benefit of all pupils for whom it provides tuition on a wide range of instruments and voice.
The aim is to develop each pupil’s musical potential according to their individual needs and aspirations.
With support from Wrexham County Borough Council, School’s Out was masterminded by North Wales Music Co-operative founder and head of service Heather Powell.
She said: “It’s been a joint course of music and sport for 50 children aged four to 11 years who all had a fantastic time and stayed with us throughout the week.
“They came from the cluster of four schools in the Brymbo area, which includes St Mary’s where it was based, Ysgol Penrhyn, Ysgol Tan y Fron and Black Lane Primary.
“The idea was to harness the children’s creativity through music sessions, including some really enthusiastic samba drumming, and listening to the Wrexham Music Co-operative tutors’ own band, Make Some Noise, which went down really well.
“Out in the playground we had the sporty sessions arranged for us by Commando X Fit Wales, led by Adam White, an old friend of the music co-operative who is a former Royal Marines physical training instructor, we have partnered with Commando X Fit now for many courses and the approach of a mixed course of music and sport is always a huge success with something for everyone.’’
“He ran a series of team games based on speed and agility such as rounders and also did some work with the children to gradually build up their physical power.
“All this meant that they had a really fun time with the indoor and outdoor activities helping to improve both their mental and physical well-being.”
Heather added: “During the pandemic children haven’t really had the chance to meet up with one another and this gave them the perfect opportunity to recover from the isolation some of them have had.
“I’d like to thank both Wrexham and Denbighshire councils for providing the support to make School’s Out possible and to provide so much enjoyment for all those who took part.
“Wrexham Council fund music lessons for hundreds of children on free school meals across Wrexham who would otherwise not have the chance to learn an instrument. I’d also offer thanks to the headteacher of St Mary’s, Mr Bowers, for the use of the school and his support in making this happen.”
Former Royal Marine Adam White, who oversaw the sporty outdoors part of the week, said: “We originally partnered up with the music co-operative six years ago and have been involved with them on a number of courses such as this one.
“With the activities I go for a general well-being approach and, apart from the exercise, I try to have a word with the children about things like sugar and nutrition.
“Wellness and mindset are all part of it but overall the idea is to get them outside and get them moving. And that’s what they’ve all been doing during the week.
“My motto is that kids in motion stay in motion.”
On hand to watch thy youngsters going through their musical and physical paces was Councillor Phil Wynn, Wrexham County Borough Council’s lead member for education.
He said: “This is an innovative idea and our council was happy to lend its support.
“The past year or so has been very challenging for everyone and due to the restrictions children have not been in school all the time.
“School’s Out has given these children the chance to carry on as usual and they seemed to enjoy it very much.
“It’s actually the first time I’ve seen music and sport mixed together in this way. But it really works well and has kept them engaged throughout.
“Being able to take part in this week of activities is an opportunity they just wouldn’t have had otherwise.”
Also visiting St Mary’s to see a School’s Out afternoon session was Denbighshire councillor Mark who, apart from his role as his council’s lead member for planning and public protection, is also chair of the North Wales Music Co-operative.
He said: “School’s Out ticks all the boxes. Music has a very positive impact on everyone and the physical side of it, especially with the outdoor element, is also very beneficial.
“The course has also been very inclusive and has clearly found a winning formula.
“It was also exactly what was needed as, hopefully, the pandemic with all its restrictions comes to an end.
“It’s not been an easy time for the little ones and it was fantastic to see them enjoying themselves so much with both the music and physical aspects.
“I’d like to thank Wrexham County Borough Council for their support for the week.”
Two of the children who took part in School’s Out were young sisters Chloe and Isobel Davies, both from the nearby area.
Seven-year-old Chloe said: “I’ve been here all week and my favourite bit was having a go at playing a trumpet.
“I also enjoyed doing the sport outside and the best part of that was playing rounders.
“There was lots to do and I couldn’t wait to come every day.”
Sister Isobel, five, was equally happy about taking part in the sessions.
“I liked playing rounders in the playground and I also liked it when we all ran round pulling a big parachute behind us. I hope I can come again next time.”
The cooperatives will be offering four weeks of courses over the summer in venues across Denbighshire and Wrexham – places are funded but limited, please watch their website for applications which will open on the 1st July’’