by Felicity Macnamara
Harehills children performed their swan song on Friday after a popular music project came to an end.
Leeds-based music company Opera North and national charity Youth Music had funded the 18-month Little Voices programme for under 5s at Harehills Children’s Centre.
The project, which also runs at centres in Seacroft and Middleton, involves 45-minute fun sessions for babies and toddlers, and was set up with the aim to introduce music, drama and movement at the earliest points of a child’s life to encourage a lifelong interest in the arts.
The final session was held on Friday as Opera North looks to branch out and expand the project to other communities across the region.
Jenny Ryan, a children’s centre teacher, said: “The sessions aimed to narrow the attainment gap for children by creating new aspirations and opportunities for families in the Harehills area.
“It also aimed to create a positive image for music and arts in the local community.”
Ann Adamson, assistant manager of the centre explained how Opera North’s involvement in the workshops benefited children and adults alike.
She added: “You could really see the kids and parents coming on over the past two years.
“The parent’s confidence grows through schemes like this and you see them blossom.
“We hope to keep contacts with Opera North, but it really will be a big loss for the centre.”
Although the sessions run with Opera North are coming to an end, training has been a big part of the project and it is hoped that a legacy will be left in the centre, allowing staff to deliver the sessions themselves.
A spokesperson for Opera North said that the organisation will continue to support the children’s centres by delivering occasional music sessions, providing guest artists and offering continued training and practical support.
Local mum Michelle James, 39, took her two-year-old daughter Amaya, to the sessions following the closure of another local group and told Yorkshire Voice that that she was sad to hear that the workshops were coming to an end.
Speaking before the last session, she said: “It really helps my daughter, it helps her not only with her singing but also gives her the opportunity to interact with other kids.
“Now we have to decide where we’ll go next.”
Click here to see the youngsters performing Little Voices music group.
Despite the closure of the group, the centre hopes to keep the magic of Little Voices alive and they are now hoping to find green-fingered volunteers for a new gardening project.
Volunteers are urged to come forward to help grow fruit and vegetables. For more information contact the centre on 0113 378 2291