Thiruchitrambalam Auditorium at Avinashilingam University in the city was filled with budding artists on November 15. Enthusiastic schoolchildren from Coimbatore and its neighbouring districts gave their creative best at the 18th edition of the Young World painting competition here. Incidentally, this year also marks the 20th anniversary of The Hindu’s Young World supplement for children.

The competition attracted more than 1,000 entries, out of which 250 each were chosen from the junior (Classes IV to VII) and senior (Classes VIII to X) categories. Of the 500 selected for the finals, 330 contestants from more than 60 schools turned up.

The topics juniors chose from were Pongal celebrations and the scene at a circus. Seniors had to choose between a scene at a railway station or a park.

Children came not only from Coimbatore, but also Tirupur, Erode, Nilgiris and Palakkad districts.

Nine students from the Army School, Wellington, braved the monsoon mayhem in their district to make it to the competition. “It was only at 11.30 a.m. on Saturday that they got their call letters. They had to start at four, today, to reach here on time,” said their teacher Kalaivani.

Seven children from Classes VI to VIII of the Panchayat Union School in Erode also had to start before day break. “They stayed with me last night as we had to start at 4 a.m.,” said their teacher Latha Charles. “Most of their parents are workers in dyeing units and they do not get any support from their families. Yet, 25 students participated and seven qualified,” she added.

Chief guest at the prize distribution function, Inspector General of Police (West Zone) Pramod Kumar said he could not think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon than getting to see the talent of these children manifested in the paintings done at the competition.

Mr. Pramod Kumar added that it was common for parents to have their dreams fulfilled by children. But this could derail the children’s progress by pulling them away from what they had an aptitude for.

“One must try to identify what one’s child is best at and let the child experiment,” he advised parents.

Parents accompanying their children echoed the sentiments of Mr. Kumar. Wing Commander T. N. Sridhar, accompanying his daughter, said, “Nowadays the emphasis is on learning (read academics). This is also learning and that is why we are here today.”

T. D. Karen from Vidhya Niketan Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Coimbatore, won the first prize in the seniors’ category and K. Monicaa from Venkatlakshmi Matriculation Higher Secondary School emerged first among the juniors.

Karen had been participating in painting contests since Standard III. “My favourite theme is Nature,” said Karen, adding that he wanted to become a botanist.

D. Nirmala from Stanes AIHSS and C. V. Rajan from Air Force School were the judges. The parameters for evaluation were use of colours, depth, absence of white spaces, presentation and depiction of the theme.

Mr. Pramod Kumar gave away the prizes to the winners. Vice-Chancellor of the university Saroja Prabhakaran was the distinguished guest at the function.

The top three seniors won cash prizes of Rs. 5,000, Rs. 3,000 and Rs. 2,000, while juniors got Rs. 3,000, Rs. 2,000 and Rs. 1,000 respectively. There were seven consolation prizes of Rs. 500 in each category on addition to gift hampers from Lotte Caramilk, the title sponsors. Cheetos was the snacks partner and ARC aqua puraa was the water sponsor.

The event on Sunday was an orientation for some who would take part later. Sub Inspector of Police R. Kavitha, who was on duty at the venue, brought her daughter along. “Though she is under-aged, I just wanted her to see the competition. After two years, when she’s eligible, she will definitely participate,” she said. Visitors also got to buy paintings done at last year’s competition. The money received would be donated for some charitable cause.

The proceeds from an exhibition-cum-sale of paintings last year (Rs.30,000) were donated to the cancer wards at G. Kuppuswamy Naidu Memorial Hospital and Sri Ramakrishna Hospital. A similar exhibition would be held this year also and the proceeds would go to charity.

More In: Coimbatore