Funday Times

Galle Children’s Festival 2011

By Hansini Munasinghe, Pix by Indika Handuwala

The Galle Children’s Festival 2011, a ‘kids-only’ weekend full of fun and learning, was held at the historic Galle Fort on October 22 and 23. A thousand children from schools in the Southern Province were invited to take part in the many events and competitions that were held at different places inside the Fort and in the surrounding areas. Children had the chance to try many exciting activities and learn anything and everything from creative writing and DJ'ing to cooking and pottery painting.

Who doesn’t enjoy playing with colours? Many stalls at the Children’s Festival were dedicated to just that, letting kids explore their creativity with pastels, water colours, collage techniques and paper crafts like paper quilling and origami. They also learned pottery painting, tie-and-dye fabric painting and kite making.

The story reading in all three languages, English, Sinhalese and Tamil, and interactive reading
sessions were enjoyed by many. Eight-year-old Dinithi from Shariputhra Maha Vidyalaya said she learned many stories. “I will definitely come again next year”, she added.

Creative writing workshops, including a poetry writing workshop conducted by the award winning poet Vivimarie Vanderpoorten, and a creative book making activity about writing, illustrating and binding your own book, were also held.

Those interested in theatre had many exciting activities to choose from including puppetry, script-writing
and devised theatre workshops. Selected schools from the area also staged dramas at the Halle de Galle.

Sholto Spowers, a ten-year-old who attended one of these workshops said he enjoyed it very much and is now planning on creating his own puppetry production together with his brother and best friend.
At the DJ Workshop conducted by Asvajit Boyle and Givanke Goonetilleke, children had the chance to learn to perform, produce and create music without using instruments. Children as young as five were invited to take part in Cookery for Kids, a “finger-licking experience” for food lovers.

Young nature lovers explored rainforests and learned about environmental protection at the Rainforest Rescue International Baddegama Nurseries and at the Samakanda eco-friendly tea estate, and explored the coasts of Dadalla, identifying different species found in rock pools and learning how to protect coastal biodiversity.

There were also many events organised for young photography lovers like the Snap Lanka Children’s Photography Exhibition and ‘Festival on Film’, a workshop about event photography. Kids, Camera, Action! Galle Youth Film Camps Screening was a show of short films created by young people.

Giving an equal opportunity to everyone, there were many activities organised for differently-abled
children. An open stage event was held on the Law Court Square where children with hearing problems,
physical and learning disabilities could sing, dance and act. “We want to showcase their abilities and not their disabilities”, said the organisers of this event.

What would it be like if you could not hear? What would you do if you could not move your legs? These are some of the things children experienced at the festival. They had a chance to learn Sri Lankan Sign Language and speak with friends who are unable to use words. In the Wheelchair Treasure Hunt, children with disabilities taught others how to use wheelchairs, and together they explored the treasures of the beautiful Galle Fort.

A beginner’s workshop about Classical Ballet was conducted by Karis Scarlette Lynch-Park, a professionally trained dancer from the Royal Ballet in the UK. She taught children the basics of Ballet and parts from the masterpiece 'Sleeping Beauty by Tchaikovsky,' one of the most beautiful and challenging dances of all time. Karis said she was surprised by how fast Sri Lankan children picked up difficult ballet steps.

The Galle Children’s Festival, the first of its kind in Sri Lanka, was organised by Geoffrey Dobbs who is also the founder of the annual Galle Literary Festival. "This was only an experiment, and next year we hope to have a bigger, better festival. We hope to invite children from all parts of the country, including Jaffna," he said.

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