The Kids Festival was exclusively meant for children, but the grown-ups present agreed that Coimbatore needed more such events to give kids a creative and stimulating experience.

The potter’s wheel turned, the cup cakes rose, paints splashed on paper, limericks and nonettes wrote themselves, stories were told, besides which there was climbing, crawling, eating and learning. When Santhya Vikram of Yellow Train school decided that it was time to show kids and their parents there was more to childhood and parenting than TV, homework and visits to the mall, she and her friends came up with the idea of having a weekend dedicated solely to children.

Overwhelming response

“We expected around 150 children to turn up for the day-long festival we had planned at The Cosmopolitan Club, but at least 300 showed up with their parents in tow,” said Santhya. “The Festival was conceived as an alternative to the kind of entertainment that is available for children today — malls, movies, games, etc. Children spent nearly four to five hours ‘actively doing’ — whether they were at the carpentry studio, the potter's wheel, the baking corner or at the science studio. This is what we had intended and the response was heart warming. The response of children to science was particularly special. Many parents and children alike came out and said they had never ever thought science could be this exciting.”

The science of fun

The teachers of Yellow Train put together the various activity studios. Karuna was the carpenter for the day, showing kids how to make trains and airplanes out of wood. Rama Menon had the kids round-eyed with her science experiments. The silkworms chewing on the mulberry leaves were a great hit with little boys. Chitra and Reema had hordes of kids waiting to draw and colour on the little easels in their art studio, while Abhirami and Latha handled enthusiastic young bakers as they made muffins and cakes. Kids got a lot of craft ideas from Rema Giridhar and Vanitha who showed them how to make frames, friendship bands, model bee-wax birds and animals, etc. There was a book corner where kids and their parents could read to each other and even buy some books if they wanted. Junuka Despande an author/illustrator with Tulika shared her beautifully illustrated book Night with the kids in an interactive session. Writer/poet Shobana Kumar shared her writing skills with children and taught them how to write limericks and nonnettes. She also had a workshop for parents on story telling. Dentist Menaka Balaji shared her passion for all things Bharatiyar with both kids and grown ups. Yellow Train had invited Sutradhar, an organisation that makes educational toys, to display itsdelightfully simple and attractive puzzles and games.

It was an activity-packed day and as Archana Dange, Head of Operations Helen O Grady, Tamil Nadu, and volunteer at the festival summed up, “Coimbatore needed an event where children were the priority. As grown-ups we disapprove if they watch television, are on facebook or play video games. But we don’t provide them an alternative. This festival showed parents and children alike the other ways to have fun. I wish we could have more such events.”

The Hindu was the media partner

A pool of hope,

A temple of happiness,

A sea of surprise,

The room of people,

The anger of the sun,

The shadows of the jungle,

And the sea of desire

Poem from 7-year-old Vanshika Bhaskaran

Art, an introduction to Bharatiyar, the potter’s wheel and close encounters with the silk worm were some of the exciting happenings at the Kids Festival organised at The Cosmopolitan Club