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Tuesday, 18 October 2011






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Creativity takes to the fore at the maiden Galle Children’s Festival :

Within the call of Galle

Some Galle Children’s Festival highlights

* Around the country in 30 minutes by tuk tuk
* Snap Lanka Children’s Photography Exhibition
* Origami and Craft
* Interactive Story Time
* Sri Lankan Sign Language
* Visual Art Competitions
* Eco-Field Trip
* Rock Pooling Field Trip
* Acting and Puppetry
* Cookery for Kids
* DJ Workshop
* Festival on Film
* Devised Theatre
* Musical Storytelling
* Introduction to Classical Ballet and Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty
* Wheel Chair Treasure Hunt
* Rainforest Rangers
* Tie and Dye
* Interschool Debates
* Kite Making & Flying on the Ramparts

Making way for young talent

Just as all children are not equally intelligent, they are not equally creative. However just as all children exhibit behaviour which reflect intelligence from birth; they also exhibit manners which mirror the potential for creativity.

These potentials should be encouraged and nurtured from a young age for them to blossom and unfurl their talents. The Galle Children’s Festival will open doors of the historic Galle Fort to an abundance of performances, exhibitions, workshops, activities, parades and discussions which will not only develop the innate skills of young minds but will also keep them engaged and enthralled throughout the weekend on October 22 and 23.

Fostering the photographer in you

Launching in the backdrop of the luscious beauty of the south, the inaugural Galle Children’s Festival will accommodate around 1000 primary and secondary school students from the southern province. An event which is held for entertainment and educational purposes, the maiden festival is in partnership with local charity Adopt Sri Lanka, the British Council, ECSAT, The Asia Foundation and the Department of Education.

According to festival founder Geoffrey Dobbs the event is aimed at “inspire learning through the arts and culture” and “to educate but to also entertain.”

“It struck me that young people could benefit from a multi-faceted festival that would enable them to decide if they had interests in any of the topics that we are covering and which they might not get a chance to experience in their normal school activities. Unlike the Galle Literary Festival (GLF), the Galle Children’s Festival covers much more than just literature. It will also include drama, art, music, dance, culture, the environment, disability awareness, cuisine and many other features. Some of the items included in the programme will be new for the participants. I believe this is the first children’s only festival of this nature to be held in Sri Lanka,” he said.

Fun with culinary arts

Dobbs dubs this year’s Galle Children’s Festival as ‘a learning year’. Therefore international figures in the children’s culture, development and entertainment zone will make their presence in the future festivals, if this year’s event bears fruit.

“We do have a team from the Royal Ballet to teach and illustrate classical ballet. This might be a first for Sri Lanka. We have many more ideas which we hope to use in future festivals,” Dobbs noted. All the events in the schedule are free. However registrations for the sessions are already full.

Though there are no events specifically aimed at school teachers, many of them will be working alongside the festival facilitators and moderators. Therefore they will be able to pick up pointers.

“We run teacher training workshops throughout the year. Hopefully the children and teachers will be inspired by the some of the events in the line-up and will want to learn more about these topics. I feel its all part of giving opportunities to children and encouraging them to ask, to participate, to explore, to experience and learn things in a sort of ‘school without walls’,” he explained.

Queried if the team will be including fewer events for children at their annual GLF, Dobbs hastened to add that the Galle Children’s Festival is an entirely separate event from the former.

“The Galle Children’s Festival has a separate funding. Hopefully the potential sponsors will see the value of supporting the event and allow us to expand the festival to include schools from other parts of Sri Lanka. We planned to include children from the west and north in our original draft but sadly funding did not permit it. However we are launching a ‘Get Sri Lanka Reading’ initiative in which we are involving over 70, 000 children in a mass reading session from the same story at 7.30 am assembly on October 21.

Teaching through reading

We are hoping that schools from other countries too will be involved in this,” Dobbs expressed adding that the team is actually aiming to expand the number of children’s programmes in the upcoming GLF. The British Council is running four activity sessions for 400 children of mixed language ability and age.

The sessions will be on song, drama, story and craft. The children will prepare for a final performance titled ‘Around Sri Lanka in 30 minutes by tuk tuk (three-wheeler)’ during the sessions. These performances promise to be fun, colourful, lively and noisy and will demonstrate the children’s language skills as well as their creative and imaginative ability. The performances are open to the public and are free of charge.

Speaking to the Daily News British Council Sri Lanka Senior Training Consultant Dr Lesley Dick said “The British Council is delighted to be involved in this innovative children’s festival in its first year. Our teaching centres and libraries in Colombo and Kandy provide a fun and creative learning environment for young learners.

This festival allows us to provide a similar stimulating learning environment for children who would not normally have this opportunity. We wish this festival every success and hope that this will be the first of many.”

Highlighting the importance of child protection and providing equal opportunity to all people the British Council works with, British Council Human Resources Manager Samanmali Eriagama Kiel said, “The British Council is committed to a policy of equal opportunity and diversity and child protection.

We work to ensure that people are not unjustifiably discriminated against on the basis of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, religion or belief, sexual orientation or any other irrelevant grounds. As an organisation that works closely with children, we also have a fundamental duty towards protecting the children that we work with.”


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