Days in the sun

Elyse Duncan-Brown and Santina Robinson stood behind trays of food in Lift youth hub's outdoor kitchen

Elyse Duncan-Brown is a regular at Lift youth club and took part in lots of activities put on by Islington Council last summer, as part of Summerversity. She tells us what she got out of the experience and what she’s looking forward to this year

What are summer holidays usually like for you?
The last couple of years have been hard, everything has been really different due to Covid. We didn’t have a prom, we didn’t get a farewell and we got predicted grades. Last year’s holidays didn’t feel so special because we had just had so much time off. Having Summerversity was so refreshing. It gave us something to do as we were getting out and meeting friends again.

Which Summerversity activities did you do last year?
I went to the multi-sports camp in Finsbury Park. There were different stations you rotate round, with tag archery, volleyball, handball, football and basketball. It was nice to work with different people and have a variety of sports to try.

I also did an introduction to catering at Lift with the lovely Sharon Clarke. She showed us different cookery and baking skills. It was such a surprise to have an outdoor kitchen, we were amazed. It is a different cooking environment and having support from staff made it even better. It was lovely to cook for other young people, and we got the chance to try a broad range of healthy stuff that not everyone was familiar with. For many it was their main meal of the day. It was so nice, with everyone coming together to eat. It made it feel really family-like.

I also did trainer design with Franklin Boateng who worked for Adidas and is the official King of Trainers. He made it so inspiring and gave me a broad knowledge of the business. It really made young people aim for more and try harder to achieve the things they want in life.

What do you like most about Summerversity?
I like how it is available to everyone and it’s free, so that everyone can get the same opportunities and learn new skills. I like how we were pushed, but not in a way we felt uncomfortable, we were just made to feel we could explore new things. Sometimes I think the staff see stuff in us that we don’t see in ourselves.

This year I am going to sign up for swimming lessons, as I haven’t been to a pool since Covid and am pretty sure I have forgotten the basics! Then I’ll head to the Islington Boat Club, as I didn’t get to finish my lessons there at school due the pandemic. I will be helping with Street Start Safety, trying to create safer spaces for young people. I think it is very important to have opportunities to meet new people and enjoy yourself in a safe environment.

What would you say to a young person who has never taken part before?
You are missing out on a lot. The staff are supportive. Go to a youth hub, check out the website, spread the word and get booking!

Find out more about Summerversity and book

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