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Game over

August 14, 2009

As a former tutor, I’ve mainly worked with adults in the Vocational Education. I’ve done some voluntary community work in the past with children. But, staying close to my professional roots, I did homework coaching (ages 12 to 17 years) and I set up a digital press agency (ages 10 to 16 years), for which I was fully responsible.

The children, who signed on to the press agency project, were each and everyone very bright and very eager to learn. Yet they were written off by the local city council as deprived. So, my personal objectives were to improve their writing skills; teach them to perform in a disciplined manner and to collaborate with one another; but primarily to convey to them a sense of identity and pride.

Entertainment oppose to learning

This being my former experience, the setup of the Summer Games was thus new to me. As I explained earlier in Pink cotton candy, I took part in the games as a volunteer for the foundation Traverse. And today, we wrapped up our share in the program. All in all, it was a particular experience.

Traverse’s main purpose for the games was for it to have an entertainment value. Any learning that might come of it was secondary. And the idea to just let the children have fun and not impose any learning on them made me feel a little lost at times.

Three things I learnt

Though I enjoyed myself, I learned that I need a structured learning environment and not ‘solely’ have an entertainment setting. Hence that lost feeling.

Secondly, I learned a lot of new games these past 3 weeks. And I now have an enriched stock in the back of my head I can draw upon to use in a learning context.

The third thing I learned was that young children are a very easy audience to please. I could stand on my head for all they cared and it would still be okay. So, I danced the Macarena with them; painted their fingernails, toenails and faces; encouraged them to do colouring; made buttons of drawings they did; refereed and cheered on as they did relay races and skipped rope with them. It was all good.

Unifying element

My neighbourhood consists of quite a few Asians, a lot from the Mediterranean coast, one or two blacks and the greater chunk is white. I love this mix.

But what I specifically enjoyed today is seeing this mix reflected on the playground. And seeing how the games work as a unifying element. Ignoring all barriers and building on that wonderful background-blindness of children. Food for thought, isn’t it?

Good initiative; need more of it

The Summer Games is undoubtedly a very good initiative. Especially, when you realise that this is a picturesque small town, with mostly an older population (of pensioners) and families with very young children. There’s not much to do here for young people.

So, give credit, where credit is due. That being said though, this is one of the very few initiatives for the youth. Fact is, the local authorities just don’t do enough and I feel they should concentrate on creating more youth activities.

For if you don’t nourish the youth, you can’t complain when they’re all over the place misbehaving themselves. Can you now?
 


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