Cities

Lake first, fun later

Children are a regular presence at weekend clean-ups at Chitlapakkam Lake

For Ezhisaivani D., participating in a weekend Chitlapakkam lake clean-up is like playing a game of treasure hunt, with a minor alteration. Here, the hunt is for trash.

For the past seven weeks, every Sunday, 14-year-old Ezhisaivani has been volunteering with other residents in lake clean-ups.

“I reach the spot by 6.30 a.m. and pick up trash from the lake bed until 10 a.m. I want to see the lake filled with clean water soon. I haven’t missed a single week so far,” says Ezhisaivani, a resident of Pradeep and Karthik Avenue.

She says she is saddened by the condition of the lake. “There is so much trash on the lake bed. Every week, we remove plastic water bottles, chocolate and candy wrappers, liquor bottles and disposable cups, and food waste. The trash removed from the lake is collected by the panchayat workers. We are given industrial gloves and cleaning tools when we volunteer,” she says.

Ezhisaivani is joined by many other children from the neighbourhood every Sunday.

Lake first, fun later

“The enthusiasm of this little brigade is quite infectious. Week on week, they take part in the clean-up as if they are playing an interesting game. They don’t complain, they don’t get bored and they work in great coordination too. If one picks up the trash, another collects it and another drops it off at the final collection point. We are happy to see parents encouraging their children to be socially responsible,” says Sunil Jayaram of Chitlapakkam Rising, which is leading the clean-up drive.

Sunil says there are also children from other neighbourhoods volunteering along with their parents in the clean-up activities.

“Recently, one of our residents was accompanied by the children of his relative, who had come here on vacation from Sri Lanka. It was heartening to see the children spare their time for a cause, and for a place that they don’t live in,” he adds.

The team hopes that more children will participate in the lake clean-ups in the coming weeks.

A ‘sangamam’ of talent

One Sunday of each month, Chitlapakkam residents come together to celebrate Sangamam, a talent show for the children in the neighbourhood.

The organisers choose the venue, which is one of the neighbourhood parks and let the children display their talent. The idea behind Sangamam is to encourage children to participate in outdoor activities and build a better understanding of their community. “We choose parks because we want the children to make use of public spaces and mingle with the community. There are so many children here with innate skills, and this forum helps them to showcase these,” says Lakshmi Krishnakumar, coordinator of Sangamam.

Here children can sing, dance, mono-act, perform stand-up comedy, folk and martial arts, play instruments and show whatever talent they possess.

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 4:26:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/lake-first-fun-later/article26806912.ece

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