Their day of fun

Like always, Children's Day is a time when children take a break from their school books. PRASSANA SRINIVASAN and SHALINI UMACHANDRAN present a round-up of the events around the city.

FROM WATCHING their teachers dance for them at school to getting their faces painted at stores, children have a blast on Children's Day. It's a day to forget classes, homework and even uniforms. "I think it's the best day in school," says 13-year-old Swetha from Holy Angels, who is also this year's Best Child Artiste for the film "Kutty". "It's a different day because the school is colourful and the teachers are so happy. We come in colour dress and the teachers put up a programme for us," she says.

Most schools have special programmes for children, and make them feel important. There is a special assembly and kids are given sweets and gifts but the high point of the day is when their teachers perform for them. "After all, school can be rather dreadful at times, so this is a nice break for them. As they make Teacher's Day so special for us, this is our way of appreciating them," says a faculty member at Bhavan's Rajaji Vidyashram. And the effort doesn't seem to be wasted. "It is the day we all look forward to as we are treated with special regard and all rules are relaxed," says Kamini of SBOA School. The fun is also in trying to identify your favourite teachers on stage, who are dressed in all kinds of costumes, explains another student.

"Apart from our usual routine of distributing sweets, this year to make it more interesting, we have `Smart Fest 2002', a three-day science exhibition starting today," says Manasi of SBOA School.

But some kids are already serious about life and are not really excited. Says 14-year old Sudha, "We know it is Chacha Nehru's birthday but apart from this, I don't think there is much to celebrate especially with half-yearly exams just around the corner."

Velankanni School, Ashok Nagar, is all set to make a splash with a Children's Day fete. The carnival is being organised to raise funds for scholarships for under privileged and deserving students of the school. There will be stalls, games and other fun-filled activities with a lucky draw at the end of the day. Entry is free and open to all. "While many schools hype it up and make their children feel special, it should also be a time to think of children who are deprived of basic rights, and of their childhood. It makes us feel that at some point of our life we must do something about these issues," says a thoughtful Ashok who aspires to be an IAS officer.

Rama Durai of Udavum Karangal believes that simple cultural programmes do not serve the purpose. "So this time for Children's Day, our cultural programmes, which include dramatics, painting, fancy dress competition, talent shows and other activities will each have a theme like child labour or child abuse. We also have a `Be Good and Do Good' competition where an award is given to the best student from each class. These celebrations are being held in our school Rama Krishna Vidya Niketan at Thiruverkadu where at least 1,300 students from the school and our home will be participating."

Sanctuary, a cancer support group, is organising a magic show by James in the paediatric ward of the Cancer Institute. Ranga Kumar of Sanctuary says, "A magic show is sure to lighten the spirits of these little souls." Meanwhile, the Park Hotel in association with Inner Wheel is also remembering the underprivileged by organising a magic show and lunch for 30 kids from nearby slums at their Six O One restaurant.

There's also a whole lot of entertainment lined up for them.

The Kishkinta theme park has events galore in store. Says Vinodh, Regional Manager, Kishkinta, "This year, we have two special offers. We are offering free tickets for children accompanied by their parents till month-end. We also have the Annual Kishkinta Excellence Awards ceremony. We have chosen 52 students from various schools on the basis of merit to give them excellence awards, certificates. P. Orr and Sons will also be giving these kids wrist watches."

Music World at Spencer's Plaza is trying to lure kids with a whole lot of contests and events. From face painting and tattooing to a magic show, the store is trying to make the shopping experience a lot more exciting. They're also launching a new children's educational VCD, Smart Cookie. It has a load of songs, dances and nursery rhymes by kids. But larger stores such as Shopper's Stop and Lifestyle don't have any special events planned. According to them, it's not profitable enough to run a promo scheme for Children's Day. "A scheme has to run for a minimum of 10 days to cover advertising, decoration and other expenses connected with the promotional offer," says an official from the store.

Pizza Corner is doing things a little differently this year. Shaji, Regional Manager of Pizza Corner, says, "We are organising an interesting educational trip to the Coke factory for around 400 children from DAV school. Over the weekend, we are also organising activities at Adyar for the neighbourhood kids."

And after all this activity, there's more fun while relaxing in front of the television. Cartoon Network is screening six special cartoons created by children from all over the country. HBO and Sony Max are playing kids' movies round the clock. Vijay TV will show a special movie in the afternoon.

And National Geographic takes children on adventurous tours with herpetologist Gerry Martin from 7 p.m. onwards. MTV is costuming its VJs as popular superheroes like Spiderman and Wonderwoman to host the day's programmes.So whether you're really young or just young at heart, there's something for everyone this Children's Day.

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