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Sportive way to solve problems

FUN-FILLED: Learn while you play. Photo:G. Moorthy

FUN-FILLED: Learn while you play. Photo:G. Moorthy   | Photo Credit: G_Moorthy

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An innovative training module that combines theatre and sports opens new avenues for children

Can sports develop personality skills? “Yes,” says Yves Weber, a social worker and expert in theatre sports from Switzerland. “In combination with theatrical skills, sports can create a positive experience and improve social skills. It is an effective tool to reach children,” he adds.

At a theatre sports workshop, Let’s Play!, for the children of Sri Lankan refugees, organised in association with Nigazh Theatre Centre, Madurai, Yves emphasises the need for children to play. “With cut-throat competition in academics, children are the most stressed lot,” he says.

“They don’t even have the time to think about recreation. Theatre sports can be a good stress buster.”

Theatre sports is an innovative programme that unites physical and theatrical exercises to create a new experience for the participants. It also improves their life skills.

“Parents have a tendency to discourage their wards from playing games fearing poor performance in academics,” says M. Bharathi, artistic director of Nigazh. “But after this workshop they will understand its significance.”

Social goals

The team has developed different modules that engage children to focus on concentration, trust, body awareness, group responsibility and creativity.

“These social goals are achieved by making group discussion after each game to reflect their experiences,” says Yves.

“Through these games we aim to break the gender bias that is prevalent in the society,” says M. Shanmugaraja, founder director, Nigazh Theatre Centre. “Children learn that it is not all about winning in sport as losing is also part of it. They understand the importance of coming together and there is a celebration mood,” he says.

In a three-hour workshop, a group of 10 to 50 children (III to XII Standard) learn different games and widen their understanding through group discussions. The workshop contains a warm-up game. Then they play one game after the other, each focusing on one specific personality skill. Each game ends with a discussion to share experiences and find out the element that has the same significance in games as in life.

Yves introduces a game called ‘Catch me if you can’. The group forms a circle and one participant stands at the centre. Another participant has a ball in his hand. Now the person at the centre tries to pluck the ball from the person holding it. Before he or she can catch the ball, the person passes the ball quickly to anyone in the group. “This game improves concentration,” he says. “The person at the centre has to be extremely alert to get the ball. It also develops anticipation.”

Yves also eggs on the kids to evolve a new game. He encourages the children to name the game and define rules. He also supports them in framing rules. “Games are integrated to put theoretical knowledge into practice,” he says. “From a pedagogical point of view the workshop focuses participation within the learning progress. The participants are involved to create and integrate their own stories and games. Using this method the children learn faster and remember the new inputs better,” he says.

The workshop was organised in government, aided and international schools across the State and six Sri Lankan refugee camps in Madurai, Thiruvannamalai and Chennai. “Students in government schools evinced keen interest,” he says. The energy and enthusiasm of these children impressed him.

“We have trained more than 1000 children,” says Shanmugaraja. “School managements responded positively and wanted such programmes in their institutions.”

Yves winds up the workshop with Kubb, a popular lawn game of Switzerland.

“Children in Switzerland are encouraged to play during free time,” he says. “Every Sunday they assemble in one particular place and play games. School managements and parents facilitate the event by providing space,” he adds.

“It is fun to be part of the programme,” beams S. Janani, one of the participants of this workshop. “The workshop has helped us to shed inhibitions and improved our self-confidence,” she says.

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 9:10:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/sportive-way-to-solve-problems/article3658243.ece

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