September 17, 2013

Madras for our kids

A slow early evening walk on the promenade of Marina Beach can be an interesting exercise in ‘man watching’. If you have the time to slow down and see.
On Sunday evening last, at about 4.30 p.m. I was opposite the Presidency College, keen to observe one of many Madras Week events.

Revathi R. who is the person behind the Yocee website for children had promoted this event which would end with children participants creating a scrapbook.
Even at that early evening hour, there were thousands of people on the Marina’s sands and hundreds kept pouring in, from the subway, the roads and from elsewhere.
A small bunch of children and their guardians had assembled at the base of the statue of Kannagi for the Madras Week event.

The intent was to get the kids to walk southwards to every statue, which was erected on the Marina by a previous DMK government in connection with the World Tamil Conference in 1968.
Resource-person Krishma Shankar would tell the group short stories on the person whose statue the kids were looking at and the kids came up with their own stories.

As the kids hopped from Kannagi to G. U. Pope to Avvaiyar and finally to the Mahatma Gandhi statue created by the famed sculptor D. P. Roy Chowdhury they also took in the façades of the landmark buildings on the western side and of all the activities on the beachside at that time of the day.

Once the Walk was over, they gathered at the Children’s Club hall on V. M. Street in Mylapore and worked on creating a scrapbook from pre-photographed images of the statues and of the Marina, using light board, paper and thread. When they finally wound up it was 8 p.m. and none had murmured or yawned.
I assume that all these children must have learnt something about the people who made history and of the life on the Marina beach. Just imagine the thoughts that a scrapbook of this nature can evoke if the kids preserve it and pick it up again a decade or two later.

That evening, I felt the immense effect that a simple Walk and a Scrapbook Making Event can have on young minds. I thought of things we could do to get kids to know their city better.
This edition of Madras Week has seen a small increase in the events meant for children. But there is a need to ideate lots more creative events that can catch their imagination.

One wishes that the Heads of our city schools include the annual Madras Week season in their school calendar and pay some attention to educating our children on our city.
Some imagination, thought and initiative can produce great results.

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