80,0000 sign up to Sunderland elf project aiming to keep children busy and creative in run-up to Christmas

An elven festive project is thriving on Wearside – and thousands of people are getting involved.

Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 4:55 am

Sunderland firm ARTventurers has launched an elf-based project on social media and nearly 80,000 people have already signed up.

It is called The Big Neighbourhood Elf Hunt and the Facebook community group encourages children and their parents to do everything from elf challenges to making elf calendars.

It is the brainchild of ARTventurers boss Fiona Simpson who said: “Up and down the country in December, millions of households welcome the arrival of an ‘Elf on the Shelf’, a mischievous character who gets up to all sorts of escapades while the children are asleep in bed. It's an idea that came over the pond from America and is now increasingly popular amongst families in the UK.

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Families are loving The Big Neighbourhood Elf Hunt which is run by Sunderland company ARTventurers.

"We love elf on the shelf at ARTventurers! Back in 2017 we designed a special Elf on the Shelf planning calendar to help parents out by providing them with easy elf-inspiration each night and it proved massively popular.

"This year we decided to launch The Big Neighbourhood Elf Hunt in order to take the elf magic even further – we're sharing lots of elf inspiration, Christmas activity ideas and running an Elf Challenge too!"

ARTventurers run award-winning art and creative play classes for babies, toddlers and children throughout the UK with branches across Sunderland and the North East.

The company has run numerous challenges during the pandemic.

Izzy Macrae shows her delight at being involved in the ARTventurers-run Big Neighbourhood Elf Hunt.

In April last year, it held a VE Day celebration initiative.

Other themed events have been held around Easter eggs and The Big Neighbourhood Lockdown project where people were encouraged to hold indoor sports days, ice candles, snow art and upcycling in January last year.

Sam Weightman is having great fun with The Big Neighbourhood Elf Hunt.

Now comes the elf challenge and Fiona said it was designed to ‘spread a bit of extra kindness and festive cheer after the couple of years we all have had’.

"In the run up to Christmas, we have got ten elf challenges for children to complete.”

Those challenges range from donating to a local food bank or taking toys to a charity shop.

Others involve making homemade cards to surprising family and friends and checking up on someone who might be feeling a bit lonely.

Francesca Rossi is definitely on the nice list and she loves The Big Neighbourhood Elf Hunt.

"If they complete the ten Elf Challenges then they have graduated as a fully fledged Kindness Elf and there's a free certificate for them to download as a reward,” said Fiona.

The Big Neighbourhood Elf Hunt can be found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/695682491244696

It was back in 2011 that Fiona formed ARTventurers as a way for children to enjoy creative play.

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Ollie Campbell-McLaughlin who loves The Big Neighbourhood Elf Hunt.

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Fiona Simpson from ARTventurers proudly holds her trophy after being announced as the Business Woman of the Year, at the 2019 Wearside Women in Business Awards.